Austin talks Alfa build
HMS Racing made its intentions for the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship clear back in late August at Rockingham, where it announced that it would run a new Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the forthcoming campaign.
Team Principal Simon Belcher described turning to the iconic Italian marque as the ‘next logical step’ for the outfit and driver Rob Austin shares that sentiment – eyeing the opportunity a new car and a blank canvas affords in making forward progress. The Evesham racer takes btcc.net through the build process to date below…
“When we announced the Alfa Romeo project at Rockingham this year, we had already started our preparations but we still had a long way to go. Since then, the shell has completed its transformation.
“We’ve used experienced fabrication specialist Willie Poole who has taken special pride in building what we believe to be one of the lightest shells on the grid. He has poured more than 600 hours of labour into de-bracketing and preparing the standard road going shell and then carefully installing the custom CAD-designed roll cage. The cage also incorporates the sub-frame pickup points, so it needs to be extremely accurate.
“Meanwhile, ABS has made fantastic progress translating our designs in to bucks, moulds and then body panels to produce our bespoke aerodynamics kit and ducting for the cooling package. You’ll get to see it in January at the Autosport International Show when it’s launched, and I think everyone will be pleased with the results. I know I’m biased but I think the Giulietta, combined with our designs and ABS’ stunning workmanship, makes for a beautiful yet purposeful touring car.
“The HMS Racing team have been busy designing and fabricating the hundreds of tailor-made components required to build a new British Touring Car including an all-new cooling pack, crash structures, exhaust system, wing mounts and loads more.
“It’s exciting to see two years’ worth of work finally starting to take shape. I had my first sit in the new car this week and that really didn’t help my patience in waiting for the 2018 season to kick off. Currently, the car is undergoing a dry build before it goes off to Alsa Automotive to be painted ahead of its assembly and our new colour scheme with branding from DUO, Northgate, Close Brothers and the rest of our fantastic sponsors who help to make great things like this happen.
“The most exciting thing for me, though, is the progress a blank canvas allows us to make. The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is so incredibly competitive right now, and when the entire grid of 32 cars can be covered by less than a second, each tiny component could mean the difference between pole position and tenth on the grid. As we get deeper into the build, we’re uncovering scores of incremental gains as well as a couple of considerable developments too.
“Ahead of the final round last season, at Brands Hatch, we qualified fourth and although we lost a lot of ground avoiding a spinning Jack Goff on lap one of race one, we still managed two solid top ten results before winning the final race of the 2017 championship. That’s not a bad starting point to be making these developments from, so we have high hopes for the 2018 season.
“That said, we also must remember the championship in which we are competing and the teams we are up against. This is the pinnacle of motorsport in the UK and we know that the likes of West Surrey Racing, Team Dynamics and BMR will be maximising their manufacturer support, vast experience and first-rate facilities to stay ahead, while we’re still yet to hit the track with our new car and begin to understand what it needs, its characteristics and how it responds to set up changes. As such, although we are optimistic and confident that we are making good progress we are also far from underestimating our competition.”