Rob Austin will make his return to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for rounds 13, 14 and 15 at Thruxton this weekend (19/20 September) as a last minute replacement for Mike Bushell with Power Maxed Racing.
Bushell sustained ligament damage and a dislocated shoulder during the last race meeting at Knockhill last month and following medical advice, he has been advised to take some time off to allow his injuries to heal.
With Jade Edwards set to take over at Silverstone, a replacement was needed to fill the seat and multiple race winner and fan favourite, Austin has stepped in.
The 39-year-old joined the championship in 2011 and has taken three race wins and a further 15 podiums, before taking a sabbatical at the end of the 2018 season.
Austin was part of HMS Racing who were forced to sit out of 2019 due to a primary sponsor pulling out and this season, they have sold their TOCA BTCC licence after a successful campaign in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta back in 2018.
He will now switch to the #10 Vauxhall Astra at Thruxton and he is looking forward to being back despite admitting he might be rusty after not racing for two years.
“When I got the call from Adam [Weaver, PMR Team Principal], I just couldn’t say no!” said Austin. “I’ve seen how good the car can be around Thruxton, and I love the circuit. There are some hurdles to overcome; there’s the obvious new driver ballast that I’ll have to drag around with me, but I also haven’t driven competitively for nearly two years now, so I don’t know how rusty I will be.”
“I will be doing everything in my power to overcome these as quickly as possible, and if I do a good job then there is every potential to show well come Sunday afternoon.”
For PMR Team Principal Adam Weaver, Austin was an ideal replacement when it became apparent that Bushell couldn’t race. “Obviously a last-minute drive change is less than ideal, but when it became obvious that Mike would be unable to drive this weekend, I was straight on the phone to Rob,” he said.
“We’ve had a great relationship for a while, having known each other since school and he’s known for being a fearsome driver that takes no prisoners when he’s on track. We’ve shown the pace of this car this year without question, albeit with bad luck marring results, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him get to grips with the car. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for some luck this weekend!”