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Rob Austin tops Knockhill first practice

Rob Austin was the surprise pace-setter in first practice for this weekend’s British Touring Car Championship meeting at Knockhill, beating Adam Morgan and Matt Neal in a closely fought session.

Click here for the full first practice times.

With times continuously tumbling throughout the session, Austin had run comfortably but anonymously in the top ten for much of the sesson but powered his way to a 53.221s lap with seven minutes remaining to hit the top spot. He was followed shortly after by Morgan, who wasn’t quite able to usurp the Audi man, finishing the session a mere 0.067s behind Austin.

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Neal and Plato were both also within one-tenth-of-a-second of Austin, the championship contenders 0.087s and 0.098s behind respectively, with Plato having set the pace for much of the session.

The session was just as close as many had predicted it to be, with Austin less than half-a-second ahead of teammate Will Bratt in 12th place, and one second covering the first 18 cars on the timesheets. Clear track was at a premium throughout the session, which could indicate that a frantic qualifying segment awaits.

Behind the top four, Rob Collard was the fastest WSR driver in 5th place, with championship hopeful Colin Turkington finishing the session in 11th. He was just two places ahead of the best placed rookie of Mike Bushell, who turned a strong performance by finishing in 13th in his first competitive BTCC outing, 0.572s off the pace.

Kieran Gallagher had a less auspicious start to his BTCC career; having spun early on in the session, the Scotsman also had an issue with his transponder, and ended first practice in 23rd place, just over two seconds off Austin’s pace. Aiden Moffat put in a decent performance despite setting the slowest time of the session, ending up less than three-tenths-of-a-second behind regular David Nye.

Paul O’Neill spent time at the top of the leaderboard in the early part of practice on his return to the BTCC, eventually ending up 17th in his Team HARD. Vauxhall Insignia.

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