BACK TO ‘VICTORY VENUE’ ROCKINGHAM FOR ROB AUSTIN RACING
|Rob Austin Racing this weekend (Sat 5/Sun 6 Sept) returns to Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit – scene of its two wins so far in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship – although Team Principal Rob Austin is refusing to get carried away by his chances this time around. The event meanwhile marks the return to action of Rob’s team-mate Hunter Abbott for the first time since becoming a dad.The Rockingham circuit and the RAR Exocet AlcoSense Audi A4s have always gelled – even in the team’s debut season (2011) Rob only just missed out on a maiden win at British motor sport’s highest level.
In 2013, however, it all came good with that first breakthrough win and that success was repeated 12 months ago when Rob led from start to finish to achieve a second career BTCC race victory at ‘The Rock’.
He will go into the weekend off the back of his most competitive showing of the season so far following seventh, sixth and fifth-place finishes in Knockhill’s three races a fortnight ago.
But Rob said: “People have this thing that Rockingham is our strongest circuit – in fact it’s actually Knockhill which is best suited to our car and actually I feel we were unfortunate not to have had a couple of podiums there, maybe even a win.
“Yet for some reason Rockingham is where things have come together for us on race day. Yes, we’ve always had good pace there – the rear-wheel-drive Audi does work well on its lay-out and we’re able to nurse our tyres better on the abrasive track surface. But that’s no guarantee of success, particularly in 2015 when the level of competition has increased yet again. I’m sure we can be towards the sharp end but it will be harder work this time around.”
Hunter meanwhile missed Knockhill’s races to be with wife Susie during the birth of their first child. At Rockingham last year he had the most memorable BTCC race of his career so far as he came through from 31st and last on the grid – following problems in qualifying – to finish 14th.
He said: “I remember that race very well – passing 17 cars in one race is not something you easily forget. It was a shame the TV cameras missed it! In fact we had been looking good in all three races until I got wiped out of race three when I was well into the top 10 – it’d be great if we can have similar form again this time around, particularly if we can qualify a lot stronger and then see what we can do from there.
“It’s fair to say that life has been pretty different suddenly for me since Knockhill with the arrival of our son. Susie has been utterly fantastic and life has never been so good for us. I’d like to see one of my pit crew change a nappie faster than me! So now it’s back to business in the BTCC and I’m raring to go again.”