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Rob Austin: Race two incident ‘killed it for us’

Exocet Racing’s Rob Austin says that contact from Gordon Shedden and Jack Goff in the second BTCC race at Silverstone “killed it for us”, as the Audi driver took just one points finish away from the weekend.

Austin had shown encouraging pace on Saturday at Silverstone, putting his A4 in tenth on the grid for the first race on Sunday.

The Pershore racer duly converted that into a ninth-place finish in race one. However the weekend would go downhill from that point onwards, as contact from Honda’s Shedden in race two pitched him sideways, where he was collected by an innocent Goff.

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With retirement in race two putting Austin 27th on the grid for the final race, the 33-year-old could only manage 18th to end a frustrating weekend.

“We’ve had decent race pace – good enough for the top 10 all day – and we’ve been much nearer the ultimate pace here than 12 months ago,” explained Austin. “But the incident in race two simply killed it for us when instead we should have been racking up more valuable points and been in the mix for the reversed grid draw for race three. The only way to sum it up is a day of frustration and missed opportunities.”

As a result of the incidents, Austin drops from tenth to 12th in the championship, 30 points adrift of Team BMR’s Alain Menu in tenth.

“I’ve openly said that my goal for this season was to finish inside the top ten in the championship but having gone into the weekend ninth in the standings we’re now back to 12th,” added a frustrated Austin. “It’s going to take something special to claw that ground back in the final three rounds at Brands Hatch in a fortnight but this is the BTCC and anything can happen – particularly on a day when the title will be at stake and a lot of drivers tend to try some crazy moves to sign off on a high.”

Fresh from having scored a double points finish at Rockingham, Austin’s team-mate Hunter Abbott failed to take home any points finishes at Silverstone, having suffered with power steering problems in Saturday’s all important qualifying session.

Abbott was then rammed out of race one by Handy Motorsport’s Simon Belcher, and struggled to make progress into the top 20 in races two and three, taking home just a brace of 23rd place results.

“This is not an event I’ll look back on with great fondness,” said Abbott. “Race three was a real shame as I’d made another decent start and I really felt like a points finish was on the cards. Unfortunately I had a big lock up which ground the left front tyre down to the canvass and that put the handling massively out for the rest of the race.

“Then someone decided instead of driving around me it might be better to try driving through me – cue a very badly damaged rear end again to my car which, again, has left the team a lot of repair work to do between events.

“From here I’m going to go and enjoy the Oktoberfest in Munich next weekend and use it as a weekend to forget! Then on to the season finale at Brands Hatch Grand Prix – one of my all-time top two favourite circuits. It’s sure to be a hectic event with it being the finale so I need to focus on being in the right place at the right time.”

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