“Fight At The Sharper End” Pleases Hunter Abbott


Hunter Abbott declared himself ‘very happy’ with his top-10 performance at Rockingham last weekend in the eighth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season, insisting that his race one charge through the field showed the improvements he and his Audi squad have made during his rookie campaign.

The former British GT racer came from the rear of the field on Sunday up into the top 10 by the second race of the day, matching his best result of the season in a weekend that saw the Audi man show strong pace after a mechanical problem ruined his qualifying attempts.

Delighted with his progress towards the sharp end of the field, Abbott told The Checkered Flag“We’re showing what we can do, and I think we made a lot of progress this weekend. We made some great changes on the set-up which have actually worked, so it’s nice to be fighting towards the sharper end.”

The weekend started in a manner Abbott would rather not have preferred, forced to begin from the back of the field on Sunday after losing drive which resulted in him being unable to set a competitive lap time in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Carving through from 31st on the grid to 14th during race one the following day, the Audi A4 driver said the race was one of the most enjoyable races of his rookie BTCC campaign to date, before bettering that with his second top-10 finish of the season in the second encounter of the day to add to one claimed at Croft back in June.

Abbott commented: “Qualifying didn’t go very well with the mechanical failure that we didn’t think it was. We didn’t do enough laps to qualify for the race, so I started at the back, but then in race one I just got my head down, carved my way through the traffic at the back and that went really well.

“Race two; I probably should have actually finished a bit higher, but I got hung out to dry a bit on the first lap halfway round, which lost me a couple of positions.”

Race one charge was a highlight (Photo: btcc.net)
Race one charge was a highlight (Photo: btcc.net)

The final race of the day ended prematurely for Abbott in stark contrast, removed from the action at Pif Paf after a spin following contact with both the Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer of Gordon Shedden and Triple Eight MG’s Marc Hynes.

“With the draw for race three, unfortunately I didn’t draw myself, and then in that race I’m still trying to work out what happened really”, commented Abbott, who deciphered the clash that left him out of the race.

“I went around the outside into turn two, got in behind Plato and then I was on the inside into turn three. I came out the corner and overtook Shedden on the run between three and four, he then went behind me into the next corner and, as I went up the inside, he just ran straight into the back of me I think.

“Then, I think poor old Marc Hynes spun me around when he ran into the left hand side of my car and you see 21 cars coming towards you, which isn’t the best view I’ve had!”

Abbott admits that his maiden foray into touring cars has been an enjoyable, if not learning experience compared to his previous outings in sportscar racing such as British GT and Ginetta GT4 Supercup, as well as in oval racing held previously around the Rockingham Motor Speedway itself.

On the tough nature of the series, Abbott concluded: “Touring cars is tough; it’s a tough grid and there’s a lot of guys out there that have won championships. If you look down, there’s not anybody really that shouldn’t be good enough on the grid.”

On a highly encouraging meeting in Corby for the Audi squad during which team-mate Rob Austin won the final outing of the day, Abbott climbed to 19th in the championship and up into second place in the Jack Sears Trophy standings thanks to his charging Sunday drive, now just 14 overtakes adrift of leader, Alain Menu.

Jack Sears Trophy Standings (After Round 8/10):

1)

Alain Menu (BMR Racing Volkswagen)

100

2)

Hunter Abbott (RAR Audi)

86

3)

Dave Newsham (AmD Tuning Ford)

79

4)

Rob Collard (West Surrey Racing BMW)

78

5)

Nick Foster (West Surrey Racing BMW)

77