Austin seals maiden victory for Handy Motorsport
Rob Austin propelled Handy Motorsport onto an illustrious list of Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race-winning teams at Brands Hatch this past weekend with a dominant performance in the final race of 2017.
In the Toyota Avensis’ last outing, ahead of a switch to an Alfa Romeo Giulietta for next season, Austin delivered a faultless drive in tricky, wet conditions to cross the line with a three-second winning margin.
As well as the first outright BTCC victory for Handy Motorsport, success in Round 30 after a pair of ninth-placed finishes also marked a return to the top step of the overall podium for Austin, who last claimed an outright race victory in 2014. Poignantly, the Evesham driver dedicated the victory to his late Grandmother who very sadly passed away last month.
“I made some silly mistakes in race one and two, I wasn’t having any of that in the last one!” said Austin, “I lost my Gran when we were at Silverstone, she was my biggest fan, and in race three there a win was on the cards. It got taken away from us, so this is for her.”
“I knew I needed to pass Epps before we got onto the back straight as his car is quick, so I tried something at Graham Hill Bend and it worked well”, explained Austin.
“It’s easy when you’ve got the car under you, the team did a fantastic job and gave me a great race car.
“The job everyone has done this year deserved more silverware than we’ve had, but that’s been down to circumstances and just bad luck.
“Without that we would have hit our target of a top 10 championship finish. What’s that saying, though… you’re only as good as your last race!”
For Handy Motorsport team principal Simon Belcher who, over the past four years, has put a huge amount into getting the squad to the position of becoming race winners in the BTCC, the maiden victory is testament to an incredible work ethic and an immense effort from all involved.
“We’ve had pole position, seconds, thirds and Independents wins – the only bit that was missing was the first overall win and now we’ve done it,” said an ecstatic Belcher. “As far as I was concerned, this was ours to lose.
“I told all the boys to double-check and triple-check everything on the car to make sure it wouldn’t let Rob down and he put in a fantastic performance in difficult conditions.
“It’s the perfect way to sign off our time with the Toyota as we head into the winter working on our new project with the Alfa.
“This win proves what a great car we’ve put together, we’ve proved we can produce a car that can win races in the BTCC.
“Everyone at the team has done an incredible job this year, we have some amazing people – this is such a buzz for everyone.”