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Rob Austin: Set-up change led to Rockingham win

Exocet Racing’s Rob Austin concedes that a set-up change overnight on his Audi A4 helped him to claim his second British Touring Car Championship win at Rockingham.

Having qualified in ‘only’ 13th on Saturday, Austin worked his way through the field in race two after making up just one position in the opening race of the day. That put him in the window for the reverse-grid final race of the day and handed the Audi driver a front row grid position alongside pole man Alain Menu.

With Austin using his rear-wheel drive advantage to maximum effect the Exocet Racing driver got the jump on Menu and never looked back to take his second win in the BTCC – at the same venue as he took his maiden win in 2013.

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“After qualifying 13th I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it this year – I was starting to lose faith and I was gutted yesterday,” said Austin to TouringCars.Net. “Me and my engineer Matt stayed until midnight working through the data and working on the set-up. We bolted it on this morning and it was good.

“I got a bit bottled up in the first race and couldn’t find a way through. In the second race we tweaked it and it was mega.”

It was quite key in the first couple of laps to get in front of the pack and getting through to clear air.”

Austin admits that he is pleased to have finally taken another win in the series, but explained that with his objective being to improve on last season he is frustrated not to have been able to maximise other opportunities earlier in the year.

“My objective this year was to win more than one race and to basically improve on what I achieved last year,” said Austin. “I think we’ve missed out on opportunities. I really think we had the quickest car over a race distance at Brands – it just felt so good. Sometimes as a driver you just know you can win, but then the propshaft broke on the line. At Croft I just made a mess of it.

“Our car has always been up and down. We’re still running on limited funds. Exocet and Duo are awesome but relative to the other guys we’re very limited [on budget]. We really want to go and do loads of testing at the circuits that we suck at, because we can’t figure out why our car is mega at some circuits and not others.”

As well as a first victory of the season, Austin also praised the performance of his team-mate Hunter Abbott who enjoyed one of his best weekends in the BTCC. After a clutch problem in qualifying Abbott came from the very back of the grid to 14th in the first race and then improved further in race two to finish in tenth, before retiring from the final race of the day with accident damage.

“I need to thank my team-mate Hunter Abbott who drove brilliantly from last to 14th and then 14th to tenth in the first two races,” added Austin. “We let him down with a clutch failure in qualifying but I think he finally showed some of his potential this weekend. To have both cars in the top ten is brilliant. He’ll come really good in the end.”

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