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Austin: ‘We’re pretty close now’

Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin came away from last week’s Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton pleased with the progress he and the team had made given two days to work on the car, leaving him hopeful of a more fruitful second half of the campaign.

Austin’s pace was encouraging, setting the sixth quickest time of the test overall having worked hard to make a shift in setup that better suits his driving style, having struggled to dial in the Toyota Avensis; this season being the first experience for the Evesham racer of a front-wheel drive machine in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

“I think since pre-season we’ve sort of lost ourselves a little bit,” said Austin. “This test has given us the chance to gradually get back to where we were. It’s the opportunity to jump a few steps and I think we’ve done that.

“The time we set on Wednesday was on old tyres so we knew there was a lot more to come out of that. I don’t think we went at the most opportune moment on Thursday but we’re happy we’ve taken a step and I’m looking forward to come back here and race now.”

“We had a bit of an over-panic at Brands Hatch and aborted to Tom’s (Ingram) setup and he drives completely differently to me. There’s been a couple of communication errors and so on so it’s taken us until now to work that out and work towards a setup that I can drive.”

The Handy Motorsport man sits 15th in the BTCC Drivers’ standings at the half way stage, with a best single result of 7th over the Thruxton weekend. An 11th and two P12’s last time round at Croft signal improvement and following testing, Austin is optimistic that the best is yet to come from a season that has so far failed to live up to his ambitions.

“We’re pretty close now,” he said. “We’ve still got a little bit to find. It’s a long track and a few of those that were ahead of us at Snetterton would have possibly been a chunk lighter than us as well so we’re quite happy with that – there’s a bit more in the bag as well.

“We’ve just got to work on taking a step forward. We’ve still not achieved what we thought we should have in the first half of the year, not anywhere close. We’ve got to start getting towards that and keep making little steps. We made a little step on Wednesday which transformed the car and we’ve got to go from there.”

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