Rob Austin Considering FWD Switch For 2016 BTCC Season


Rob Austin says that he is yet to decide on a replacement for the outgoing pair of Audi A4s, as the winter season begins following the conclusion of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Austin ended his and the A4’s fifth season with a personal best finish of fifth on two occasions, 12 times finishing inside the top 10 during the 30 encounters on his way to finishing 14th in the overall Drivers’ Championship.

18th and a double retirement at the final meeting of the year at Brands Hatch GP circuit was a negative note to end on, but Austin admits that he and Rob Austin Racing are now looking at a new chapter away from the Audi A4, which he first entered the BTCC with back in 2011.

Speaking to The Checkered Flag on the past and present times with the Audi A4, Austin said: “Over the years we’ve had lots of highs, lots of lows – but I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way! I’m looking forward to next year.

“I’ve really enjoyed running the Audi A4. This year it’s become a bit frustrating because as a team I think we’ve done a mega job. My team have really upped their game and I feel like I’ve stepped up a notch as a driver as well.

“Unfortunately, it just hasn’t really shown this year. We know we’d be getting better results if we had equal machinery, we’ve been a bit sandbagged. You get stuck down with certain people and it becomes a danger zone.”

Craig McAllister Rob Austin
Photo: Craig McAllister

Austin and team-mate Hunter Abbott completed a second season alongside one another in 2015, the former having clinched two emotional BTCC victories at Rockingham in both 2013 and ’14 respectively.

Austin said that previous rule changes to NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) specification cars gave the Audi squad a head start initially, but that now is the time to adapt to future alterations by moving to a new model.

“The Audi was the ideal car for the rules in the first year, but then things changed and from there on it hasn’t been the ideal car, but we’ve known that”, added Austin. “It’s obviously a lot of money though to change.

“We’ve always known there’s more in the car than we’ve had out of it. So we stuck with the A4 and developed ourselves as a team. This year we feel we’ve really maxed it out but, with nothing more to come from it, we feel it’s time for a change.”

The table is therefore empty for Austin to work on replacing the A4 machinery for 2016, his attentions soon focusing towards the winter break and potential plans.

Two podiums went Austin's way (Photo: btcc.net)
(Photo: btcc.net)

Despite having thrived recently in rear-wheel drive configuration BTCC machinery, the opposing front-wheel drive route is one that the double race winner says may suit the change in regulations for next season, which includes new specification parts supplied by RML.

“We’ve got lots of conversations going on”, concluded Austin. “We don’t what direction we’re heading for ourselves yet.

“We need to decide very quickly because obviously it’s a lot of work to build a new car and get the new kit installed so we can develop it all.

“I think it’s safer to go for the FWD option in this championship. I think with the type of car that is required to be competitive, there are more options available for FWD than RWD.

“I prefer driving a RWD car but I’m easy. I figure if you can drive, you can drive.”