Rob Austin recorded his best British Touring Car result to date chasing James Nash to the checkered flag in the third race of the day at Rockingham.
Austin had started his Steel Seal sponsored Audi A4 from the outside of the front row, taking the lead from pole sitter Rob Collard on the opening lap. However, Nash – driving for Triple Eight Race Engineering – got by at the Deene hairpin on lap four to take the lead, a move Austin admitted was a surprise.
Nash initially pulled out a gap, but as the tyres on his front wheel driver car started to give up, his advantage dwindled and fell back towards the chasing Austin. Though he almost certainly had the pace to beat Nash Austin was unable to make the crucial pass that would have given his a first win in the BTCC.
“Just one more lap was all I needed! It was a really good race with James who drove the really well,” said Austin. “To finally be here, on the podium, is a great reward for everyone in the team who have worked so hard to develop the car, it’s just beautiful to drive now. At the start of the season we were struggling, the cars were very late and we have had to learn an awful lot, so to finish 2nd is a tremendous achievement in year one. We plan to be a serious title challenger next season.”
The first podium was just reward after not only a season of development but also a hard fought day at the Northamptonshire roval for the driver and his Rob Austin Racing team.
Starting the first race from third on the grid Austin looked to challenge eventual race winner Jason Plato for the lead on lap one. However, the lightest of taps to the rear of the rear-wheel-drive Audi from an apologetic Paul O'Neill pitched Austin into a spin that dropped him out of the 20.
The comeback drive that followed moved Austin back into the points in seventh place.
Race two also needed a driver through the packed grid after repairs to damage incurred in the first race meant the team were forced to forfeit their grid slot, instead having to start from the back.
Once more the pace of the full NGTC-spec Audi was on show as Austin drove up to ninth place, which was converted into their front row start in the reverse grid finale to the championships' weekend.