Rob Austin had his most successful BTCC weekend at Snetterton but still ended the weekend frustrated after he felt troubles in qualifying as well as the races limited his haul to just two overall point.
Austin, driving for his own team – Rob Austin Racing – opened his points account in slightly unusual circumstances, scoring fastest lap in the second race around the Norfolk venue's new '300' layout only one lap before pulling off the track with drive shaft damage that the team traced back to a coming together in race one when Austin was spun at Agostini.
The accident, with BMW driver Nick Foster had happened while Austin was making progress towards the top ten after a disappointing qualifying session in which the team misjudged the set-up. Without the mistake, Austin told The Checkered Flag he believed he could have challenged fellow NGTC driver Frank Wrathall in the top seven.
“That puts you back in the pack and we got turned around in race one,” Austin said of his relatively poor qualifying. “If we hadn't of got turned around who knows what we could have done. I haven't seen the times yet but [in race three] I could see Newsham who I know started on pole and we were reeling him in.”
After his short lived race two Austin shone in the day's final race, surviving several scrapes, including the first corner incident that ended with Liam Griffin in the barriers.
“I think it was Liam Griffin was up the inside of one of the Aon cars I think – I could be wrong,” Austin told The Checkered Flag. “I tried to line myself up to get up the insde for the exit buring on the power and the car on the outside just came and clobbered the car on the inside who then came across and span across the front of me. I thought for a moment that was my race done straight away because you imagine holes in the radiator and stuff, then you've got to bore your way through a little bit. I thought at a couple of points the radiator had gone. I think we're going to make bigger bumper bars next race.”
Austin's drive into the top ten was completed on the final lap when he passed Tom Onslow-Cole to take tenth and the all important final championship point.
Development continues apace on the Audi, Austin harbouring lofty ambitions for a car that began the season overweight and underpowered.
“The pace, I think is there – well it's definitely there with fastest lap. A bad qualifying is now 14th where at the beginning that would have been a od send. At Oulton Park we would have loved that. It's just a matter of putting it all together on a race weekend. Frank ran in third during the race so I don't see why we can't be challenging for wins if it all comes together.”