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Rob Austin hoping to continue ‘great form’ at Donington

Rob Austin is confident of being able to repeat his pace from the opening round of the season at this weekend’s British Touring Car Championship meeting at Donington Park.

After impressive first and third races of the season were cancelled out somewhat by a prop-shaft failure in the second encounter, the fan-favourite lies ninth in the championship heading to Donington.

The 33-year-old will be tracked throughout the weekend by an on-board camera, and is hoping for a similar result to the last time he was followed, as he claimed a memorable first victory in the series last September.

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“The last time I had the onboard camera – at Rockingham last year – I won! Hopefully that’s a good omen,” said Austin. “I also really enjoy Donington – it’s full of fast, undulating sweeping bends making it a real driver’s circuit so it’s always one of my favourites on the calendar.

The Evesham driver has found results hard to come by at the Leicestershire circuit in previous seasons, but after a strong pre-season was keen to reasserted his belief that his 2014 package can deliver a more satisfying reward.

“It’s also where I made my BTCC race debut, in 2011,” said Austin. “It’s not been the kindest to me in terms of BTCC results yet, but the Audi’s chassis has always been very good there and we had a fantastic pre-season test at Donington when we learnt a lot and seemed to be on the pace of some other very fancied runners.

“So I’m confident – I know, I’ve said that before – but we showed we had great pace at Brands Hatch and it’s important I score well in all three races this weekend to keep the championship leaders in sight. I’m equal ninth in the standings at the moment and want to be higher than that by Sunday evening.”

Austin’s teammate Hunter Abbott was also relishing the weekend ahead, as he continues his learning curve in Britain’s premier motorsport series.

Abbott, of Maidenhead, is keen to push on in the BTCC after scoring a point in his debut weekend at Brands Hatch, and has fond memories of racing at the circuit where he made his break in motorsport.

“Now I’ve had a taste of the BTCC at Brands Hatch I cannot wait to get back out there,” said Abbott. “The qualifying times won’t be as close as they were at Brands but my goals are to improve on my qualifying position from Brands and my race starts –  they were diabolical! – plus, dare I say it, break into the top ten in a race. That would be fantastic.

“I had my first ever car race there [Donington] in Formula First in 2000 and put it on pole position! In 2008 I set a new GT4 lap record when I was sharing a Ginetta G50 with Rob in British GTs. Wheel-banging with (former F1 racer) Martin Donnelly in Radical sportscars in 2005 was good fun as well.”

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