Rob Austin says his Wix Racing team can take “a huge amount of positives” from the British Touring Car Championship opener at Brands Hatch after starting the day on the podium and ending it in the medical centre.
Austin had finished third in round one, having led the first half of the race, but was punted into a spin by Frank Wrathall in the second race and finished his meeting with a huge shunt in race three.
The Audi driver had moved from 20th on the grid to 10th on the opening lap of the third race but as he rounded Paddock Hill Bend on the start of the second lap, two cars in front Dave Newsham‘s Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis snapped sideways on the exit of the corner and as Austin took to the inside in avoidance, the front of the Toyota clipped the Audi and sent it flying into the tyre wall.
“Physically, just physically,” he said when asked by theCheckeredFlag.co.uk if he was okay following the high-speed impact. “Everything else is not okay. What can you do? That’s motorsport. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster today but we’ll come back fighting.”
Having secured the title sponsorship of Wix Filters over the winter following a trial run at the 2012 Brands finale, Austin and teammate Will Bratt were able to put together a proper pre-season programme for the first time.
And, despite the significant setbacks, he says they can take plenty of heart – among other things – from the weekend.
“I led the first lap of the 2013 British Touring Car Championship,” he said with a smile. “I got the first fastest lap and I was on the podium. [I was] the first to try the soft tyres. A lot of firsts, a lot of positives – a huge amount of positives.
“That second race, if Frank had just overtaken me instead of trying to drive through me, or if I’d held him behind, I’m absolutely certain that would have been a top five. I still believe it could have been a podium. Then the third race would have been totally different. Everyone was struggling on the softs and mine would still have been coming good at that point.”
Though both Austin and Newsham emerged unscathed from the incident – shaking hand immediately – the Audi driver said the team were counting the cost of the incident; potentially putting the next round in jeopardy.
“If I can get it fixed we’ll be quick at Donington,” he added, before being asked if it would take the full break between now and Donington to repair. “Oh yeah. If it’s done the cage, God knows. But I don’t know if we’ll do it if it’s done the cage.”