Austin fastest at Donington test


Credit: BTCC Media

Rob Austin kicked off the 2018 British Touring Car Championship with an impressive performance in the pre-season test at Donington Park.

The HMS Racing driver topped the times with a 1m10.074s lap set late in the day, as the all-new Alfa Romeo Giullietta made its competitive debut.

Austin’s time was 0.164s faster than that of Motorbase Performance’s Tom Chilton, who ended the day second fastest.

“There are a lot of common components in a touring car, but I underestimated how different driver the Alfa Romeo would be,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work to try and figure out the new car. Trying to get the balance to match up that of the Toyota because we really had that car nailed down. We are certainly getting there though and we seem to be getting good lap times.

“I think we are in the ballpark, but we won’t know exactly where we stand until we get to Brands Hatch qualifying – at the moment it’s positive and our tails are in the air.

“I feel like a broken record as I have been a massive fan of the Alfa Romeo since I was a kid and to finally be getting the opportunity to be representing the brand in the BTCC is a dream.”

A late improvement put Chilton second ahead of Colin Turkington, Sam Tordoff, Andrew Jordan, and Josh Cook.

It was a less than smooth day for Eurotech. Jack Goff led for most of the session, before improvements from a number of drivers in the final hour knocked him down from first to seventh.

He then span into the gravel at Redgate in the closing stages of the session, bringing the test to a close 10 minutes early.

Team-mate Brett Smith also suffered an incident when he crashed at the bottom of the Craner Curves, significantly damaging his Honda Civic Type R.

A number of other drivers also suffered smaller incidents.

Adam Morgan ended the day eighth fastest, ahead of Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley.