Rob Austin enjoyed two visits to the podium in the seventh round of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, but felt equal levels of frustration following a selection of incidents that stymied his chances of victory.
The trip to Fife almost saw Austin repeat his pole position of 12 months ago as he joined Sam Tordoff on the front row following Colin Turkington‘s penalty, after which he notched up his second and third rostrum visits of the season in Sunday’s opening pair of races.
The Audi driver declared the weekend a successful one in Scotland, saying: “In essence it’s been a very successful weekend. Everyone in the team, from the mechanics to all our sponsors, have really pulled together very well and we’ve capitalised on a circuit where we know we can be strong – I also love Knockhill and being on the podium here, particularly with such a huge and enthusiastic crowd – is always a special experience.”
Alongside relief, Austin was however also left frustrated by several incidents across Sunday’s action, most notably a number of skirmishes with the two Honda Yuasa Racing team drivers. Two clashes with Gordon Shedden were pushed to the forefront of Austin’s mind – the Scot having hinted malice afterwards to TCF – and Austin had his own viewpoint of the events.
“While I’m delighted with our results I can’t help feeling frustrated – I really wanted a win and had the car and opportunity to achieve that in races one and two”, he said.
“Unfortunately I was denied that because certain drivers don’t think I deserve to be at the front and I shouldn’t be allowed to overtake them”, he added, after finding himself in the middle of several fracas during the weekend.
Austin ran a comfortable second place behind pole-sitter Tordoff in the opening race, but was then pitched into a lurid slide through the grass after contact with the Civic Tourer of Shedden coming out of Clark Curve later in the encounter.
Austin survived, and quickly recovered two places when Shedden’s Honda spun into Andrew Jordan‘s Civic three laps later at Scotsman on lap 14, promoting Austin to a second podium finish of the season as Tordoff’s demise through electrical gremlins gifted the Audi driver second place behind winner, Matt Neal.
The two Hondas and Austin found themselves brewed in drama at the start of race two, as Austin’s attack on Neal around the outside at turn one ended in the Audi drifting wide down the hill, before contact with Shedden a corner later in the bottleneck effect ended with the Scot’s Honda facing the wrong way.
Austin survived to wrap up another podium with third, but was then rudely removed in race three when Jason Plato thudded into the rear of his A4 at the hairpin.
Despite a strong weekend that jumps him up to 11th in the championship standings, Austin admitted that the respect shown on-track left him feeling disheartened by the antics at Knockhill, saying: “Given time I’m sure they will come to realise that they can only get away with treating people like that for so long. I know I’m not the only one who’s fed up with it.
“But I won’t let it affect what I’m doing on track or the way our team goes about our racing. If they want to do that then fine but it’s not our style. We’ll continue to fight fair and go for the wins at Rockingham (6/7 September).”