Rob Austin praised the faith of his Handy Motorsport squad after clinching the team’s first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium at Snetterton.
After suspension troubles limited the Toyota Avensis driver to 23rd on the grid, results of 13th and ninth followed before a fine defensive drive in the final race of the day in Norfolk saw him pick up his and the team’s first silverware of the season with third place.
The outcome dwarfed Austin’s previous best result of seventh place at Thruxton, the double BTCC race winner later admitting that the rostrum visit was a huge morale boost to himself.
“I’d lost a bit of faith in myself”, Austin admitted to The Checkered Flag after the achievement. “Handy Motorsport never lost faith in me as a team though.
“We turned a corner on the test day here, so we came into this race with our tails in the air expecting to qualify in the top 10. Unfortunately, it’s so tough in this championship that you can’t expect anything. If you’re in the top 10, then you’re doing well.
“We worked hard for it; I’ve been in almost every position this weekend having come from 23rd up to 3rd. I’m pretty chuffed with that.”
Austin made the switch from his own Rob Austin Racing outfit during the winter season, taking over driving duties of the Handy Motorsport Avensis from team boss, Simon Belcher.
Adapting from RWD Audi machinery, Austin said that the recent Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton prior to last weekend’s BTCC meeting was a key factor in the team’s upturn in form.
“It’s a team effort”, praised Austin. “Simon’s obviously made the change from driving to team managing and I’ve moved from managing and team engineering to just driving.
“With learning FWD too, it’s taken a bit for it to gel. Rather than concentrating on our own thing, we got sidetracked by the pace of Tom Ingram in the same car, so it took a bit of time to get our heads around it. The test day really allowed us to do that and we’re there now.”
Team boss Belcher added his personal joy also, saying: “We all knew the pace was in the car, it’s been a bit frustrating having to keep telling people that but we’ve proven it now with this podium – hopefully it’ll silence a few critics.
“It’s only taken us half a season to get on the podium which I think is pretty good going and, now we’ve got this monkey off our backs, we want to take the next step as our aim is to be winning races. I’m over the moon.”