Rob Austin was delighted to have returned to the top step of the British Touring Car Championship podium at Rockingham, having admitted he previously resigned himself to the thought that a win in 2014 would never happen.
In a strong weekend for the Audi A4 driver at Corby, Austin rekindled memories of 2013 by taking his second ever BTCC win at the same Rockingham circuit he claimed his first at 12 months ago, beating pole-sitter Alain Menu away from the line to claim a comfortable first victory of his season in the third race of the day.
“A great win, but we didn’t know what was going to happen in that one!” Austin told TCF after his race three triumph. “Luck was on my side today!
“Luckily it panned out well. [Saturday] we put on last year’s set-up, but slightly different tyres on a different sort of day just didn’t work.”
The race win came after a troublesome qualifying where he ended up 13th on the grid following Saturday afternoon, surviving an action-packed opening encounter the following day which included a clash with the MG of Marc Hynes at Yentwood on his way to 12th.
Austin had struggled initially to find a set-up to suit his Audi to the technical circuit, adding: “The team have done such an awesome job, they were working until midnight on preparing a good set-up – we bolted it on next morning and it felt good.
“In touring cars, if you don’t qualify well, then you have to play the long game. We tried to just stay out of trouble, didn’t do very well and I went to go and apologise to Marc Hynes after race one, managed to finish and then tweaked the car for race two – then it was mega.”
A race two charge on the softer compound tyre was key to Austin’s success later in the day he felt, as a slick recovery through the pack following a great getaway ended with a satisfying result of fifth place come the race’s conclusion, slipping by Menu who seemingly did not make it difficult for the Audi on the last lap with the reverse-grid to be applied.
He added: “Key was the first couple of laps when I managed to break through the pack, than find some clean air and really stretch my legs a bit.”
The win came if anything as a shock to Austin himself, who admitted also that he had written off his chances of reaching the top step once again this season, having unexpectedly set his sights at improvements on his spectacular 2013 campaign.
“I want to better what I did last year so I want to carry on improving all the time. Two wins, more podiums, finishing in the top 10 – it’s standard aims that any driver would have”, Austin commented.
“We genuinely didn’t think we were going to win anything this season. We had a chance at Brands in race two but the prop failed, I made a complete hash of Croft and then in qualifying here I thought ‘oh s**t’, because this was one of the tracks that would really suit our car while we don’t have the money to develop it for every circuit.
“With Hunter, we let him down with a clutch failure but he has done an awesome job, charging through to 14th and then helping us get both cars in the top 10 for race two.”
Austin now leaps into ninth place in the championship, and will aim for that second victory of the season at Silverstone which will be the next visit for the BTCC on 27/28 Spetember.