Austin’s Alfa aiming for the podium
DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing arrived at Rockingham with fan-favourite driver Rob Austin setting his sights high and casting a glance towards the top step of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium. The Alfa man has already kicked off his weekend in impressive fashion with the second fastest time in FP1.
Through a season where great potential with the glorious Alfa Romeo Giulietta has been tempered by some misfortune, Evesham driver Austin has maintained his focus and his desire to return to the BTCC podium as soon as possible is unquestionably undimmed.
If anything, the former Rockingham race winner is even more determined than ever to fight for silverware and with a strong affinity to the Corby track – he has won there twice previously in the UK’s premier motor racing championship – Austin is relishing his first races there in the Alfa Romeo.
The corresponding BTCC weekend last year, of course, was where the Swindon team confirmed it would be bringing the legendary Italian marque back to the category for the current season, so consistently strong results in rounds 19, 20 and 21 would be widely celebrated.
“Rockingham has been kind to me over the years,” said Austin, “Having won there twice previously I am determined to get another win on, what could potentially be, the last time the BTCC ever visits the venue. The potential is absolutely in the car, team and myself to do it and this painful run of bad fortune that has been devastating our race weekends of late is long overdue a change.
“I will be doing everything in my power to end this bad run and start rewarding our incredible sponsors, fans and team with silverware. I think the DUO Motorsport with HMS Alfa Romeo Giulietta will suit the Rockingham circuit and after feeling slightly lost with the setup early in the season, we are now on the right track and the car is better and faster every time I get in it now.”
He added: “My confidence in the engineering abilities and preparation standards of the team has never been higher so I know I’m going to be given a fantastic car on the day. I’ll have to put the ill fortune we have faced over the last few rounds behind me, get on with the job and convert it in to some silverware.”
As mentioned, Austin – who is backed by a key portfolio of sponsors headed by DUO, Northgate and Close Brothers – has enjoyed significant success at Rockingham in the past. Taking his maiden BTCC win there in 2013 at the wheel of his now-legendary ‘Sherman’ Audi A4, the Worcestershire racer added another victory at the 1.94-mile track the following season.
This year, Austin and DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing arrives at the Northamptonshire venue with one podium, from the opening weekend of the season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, and a pair of top six finishes as the standout results. Another podium is long overdue…
Team principal Simon Belcher said: “We are focused on getting the Alfa back on the podium, we must seize every opportunity between now and the end of the season. Anything less than podiums and it will be a disappointment for us as we know it is in Rob and the car.
“Some drivers are now starting to look at the championship but we are concentrating on realising our true performance, no matter what. Nothing would be better than to find our form at Rockingham where, last year, we announced we would be bringing the Alfa Romeo brand back to the BTCC.”