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Rob Austin ‘gutted’ with Croft incidents

Rob Austin says he is “gutted” with the results of his three British Touring Car Championship races at Croft, after the Exocet Racing driver scored just three points at the weekend.

Austin was in a strong position for race one with a starting position of tenth on the grid. However the Audi driver was turned around by Matt Neal and dropped to 22nd position. A strong recovery drive allowed Austin to collect three points for 13th.

Race two was a short affair for the Pershore racer, who was sent spinning off the circuit before even the first corner as a result of contact with Fabrizio Giovanardi and Dave Newsham. The incident left both Austin and Newsham out of the race.

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In the final race of the day both Austin and team-mate Hunter Abbott – who had earlier scored his best-ever BTCC result in race one with a tenth-placed finish – had to start from 26th and 28th respectively. Alas a comeback drive never materialised for Austin, who was taken out of the race in a three-car incident between Neal again and Warren Scott at Clervaux.

There was a positive result for Hunter Abbott, however, who followed up his points in race one with 11th in race three, marking only his third points finish since joining the BTCC at the start of the season.

“I’m absolutely gutted, particularly as we clearly had the potential to be right up there pushing for podium results – the pace of the cars when we were running smoothly has been stunning,” said a disappointed Austin after his second-worst weekend of the season. “I was really happy with my comeback drive in race one but unfortunately my day has been ruined by a couple of drivers simply wiping me out.

“I’m delighted for Hunter – we’ve said all along how fast we know he is and today he’s driven really well. He thoroughly deserves his results and I’m sure he’ll build on this and we’ll see a lot more of the same from him in the season’s second half.”

After another difficult weekend, Austin praised his team’s mechanics after they were forced to almost continuously repair his car throughout the weekend.

“Above all I have to applaud my team’s mechanics,” added Austin. “I dropped the ball in practice yesterday and crashed which left them with a big job to have the car ready for qualifying which they did. Then there’s been damage in every race today but every time – and under massive pressure – they’ve worked miracles to have the car ready again and deserved a lot more to show for their incredible work. It’s been immense and I’ll be buying them a few rounds of drinks at least to say thank you.”

“At least we now have the six-week break to repair the car before the season resumes in early August. I predict we will come back very strong and be able to put together a really good run of results at Snetterton, Knockhill and Rockingham. We never give up.”

Abbott was understandably more pleased with his weekend than team-mate Austin, hailing the result as a ‘breakthrough’ for himself.

“It’s definitely a breakthrough for me but I’d also say it’s overdue,” said Abbott, who moves up to 19th in the championship. “My race engineer James Weaver and I have found a lot more pace in the car since qualifying yesterday and it has felt terrific.

“We spent a lot of time going through the set-up of the car this weekend and with a few more tweaks it gives us a really good base to work from for the rest of the season.

“I’m very pleased with my day’s work and it rewards the fantastic work that goes into the cars and running the team behind the scenes. More [of this] please!”

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