Rob Austin took three top-five finishes during what he described as a “mega” weekend at Oulton Park last weekend, returning to the podium for the first time in the 2014 British Touring Car Championship season.
The Exocet Racing driver was consistently inside the top 10 during a weekend full of mixed weather conditions to contend with, and was delighted to have returned to the sharp end of the field with results of fifth, second and fifth again placing him back with the perennial front-runners.
“I’m well chuffed!” he told The Checkered Flag on Sunday evening. “It’s nice to be back where we were, in fact fact better than where we were.
“It’s nice to be the ‘little guy’ taking it to the big boys. The Exocet car has been mega all weekend. The strange thing is, that this is the same setup we had on the car at Donington – it’s just working. Here suited us a lot better.
The Audi A4 driver felt the potential was there for such results after reverting to the older setup, and took time to applaud the respect shown around him in his strongest weekend of the season.
“I did expect to be in the top 10. It was nice to be right in there and up the front, having a nice, clean race each time. I had a couple of rubs with Sam Tordoff in that last race but it could have been so easy for him to just tap me sideways; so great respect for Sam and for some good racing today, it’s been clean throughout.”
Converting his sixth place qualifying result into fifth during Sunday’s opening race, Austin then charged through to third at the start of race two and soon worked his way towards the leading WSR BMWs of Colin Turkington and Rob Collard.
His opportunity to split the 125i machines at the head of the pack came from a safety car period to remove Dave Newsham‘s crashed AmD Ford Focus. Both the lead cars slowed, Austin taking second under racing conditions before the yellow flags were within view. Collard re-passed the Audi man, but the results were switched later due to the yellow flag infringement.
On the safety car confusion itself, Austin added: “I heard on the radio that the safety car was coming out, then you race until you see the yellows. Both the BMWs backed off as though they were under yellows, so I looked around, went past and then Colin [Turkington] realised what was happening and floored it.
“So I took second and went on the radio saying they could tell me if I needed to let [Collard] back through – but he overtook me anyway! It was just an opportunity that presented itself.”
Austin now lies 10th in the competitive 2014 championship heading to Croft on 28/29 June and in an optimistic mood, saying: “I think the next few rounds are going to be good for us.”