Rob Austin is confident that he and his team can compete at the front of the British Touring Car Championship field in 2014 and build on their maiden victory in the series last year.
Speaking at the Autosport International Show, Austin was thrilled to be returning to the series after enduring a difficult start to the winter period when WIX Filters withdrew their backing from his team.
Having secured title sponsorship from Fast Exocet for the next two BTCC campaigns, Austin praised the company’s involvement with his project.
“Obviously we had a big dent on next year’s plans not so long ago, but Fast Exocet really stepped up with fantastic support, huge commitment with a two-year deal – it’s huge stability for us,” Austin told TouringCars.Net. “They’ve [Exocet] been a supporting sponsor on the car already, the opportunity came about to take title sponsorship at the last round last year – it showcased what we can do and the reaction they got from it was incredible so once again we’re grateful for the reaction from the awesome fan base we have.
“Off the back of that the opportunity came about and the commitment for two years is a big deal for us, so hopefully we can use that stability to improve the results.”
Austin was also keen to laud the influence of his and his team’s supporters, who have been given the opportunity to buy shares in the squad and hold a stake in one of the championship’s favourite outfits.
“The reaction to the owners’ club has been incredible – the support we have is humbling, and without their [the fans] support about two or three times now we’d probably have gone bankrupt and we certainly wouldn’t be racing without them.
With the opportunity for fans to have their face on the roof of Austin’s car for the 2014 campaign for £35 amongst other offers, Austin believes the income will help his team to improve their fortunes in the forthcoming season – although he insisted that the best thing to come out of the deal was to strengthen his relationship with the fans.
“It’s [the owners club] going to help us with our budget and it’ll buy us a few test days, but the important thing for us is that we feel we are giving something back – we are literally going to be the people’s team, and it’s going to be a really cool thing to be a part of.”
As for his ambitions for his fourth campaign in the series, Austin was hopeful that he could build on the pace he was able to show on occasions last season, with no major regulation changes.
“Last year we proved that when we get it right we can fight at the front,” said Austin. “This was the first year since we’ve come into touring cars that we will actually have stability in the regulations.
“Every year you have updates it saps your budget, but it also takes away your time to go testing – last year we didn’t do a single test day whereas this year we’ve already got some booked for later this month.
“We want to be more consistently fighting at the front, and give me a glimmer of hope and I’ll work, drive and fight as hard as I can to make the most of it and get to the front.”