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Rob Austin: ‘A season of highs and lows’

Rob Austin is pleased to have held his own against the bigger teams in the 2014 British Touring Car Championship despite a tough weekend around the Brands Hatch GP circuit, which yielded a single points finish.

Having been caught out by the red flag at the end of qualifying, Austin lined up 16th for the first race; however round 28 ended at Paddock Hill as he was caught up in the melee which had started ahead of him.

“Sure Brands Hatch hasn’t gone to plan but what the team has shown yet again is an incredible fighting spirit to beat the odds and fix both cars so they could race again,” Austin admitted. “The accident in race 1 left me wondering if either car would come out to play again but my team simply do not know when they are beaten – most teams would have called it a day but not us. What they did was incredible.”

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Lining up at the back of the grid for the second race, Austin worked his way forward to finish just outside the top 15 and moved forwards to sign the season off with a Championship point and 12th overall in the drivers’ Championship, having taken his second career win at Rockingham as well as 3 other podium finishes.

Reflecting on the season as a whole, Austin added: “It has been a season of highs and lows – the highlight of course being the win at Rockingham – but we’ve really held our own against bigger budget opposition in what has now grown into one of the three most competitive motor racing championships in the world alongside Formula 1 and NASCAR.

“An awful lot of that is also down to our fantastic sponsors Exocet, DUO and AlcoSense as well as all our equally enthusiastic partners and all the public who have joined our Owners Club. Their passion really keeps us going and I cannot thank them enough. Everybody can really hold their heads high.”

Looking ahead, Austin confirmed that he will have a full winter test programme thanks to his sponsors and can’t wait for the 2015 campaign to get underway.

“From here we will go back to base in Pershore, rebuild both cars and then, for the first time thanks to our sponsors, look towards a proper winter testing programme to make sure we come back in 2015 even stronger and faster. I can’t wait for it to begin all over again,” Austin concluded.

Team-mate Hunter Abbott was another driver to get caught up in the Paddock Hill melee on the opening lap of the race having started 14th.

He missed out on the penultimate race of the season due to the damage sustained to the #54 Audi A4 and the season finale saw him pushed back into the pits having struggled to get off the line for the formation lap.

The Maidenhead-based racer finished his first season in the BTCC 20th overall having collected a brace of top 10 finished during the campaign.

“My first season in the BTCC has been a real baptism of fire, but I have to say that I have never enjoyed a season of motor racing as much in my life,” Abbott said. “I very much intend being back with Rob Austin Racing in 2015 and I am very much looking forward to all the planning and testing we have lined up in the winter months.

“There’s no other team I’d want to be with and I know from what is happening behind the scenes that we can be very competitive every time out next year. Like Rob, I have to thank the terrific team of people who work on my car – they have really been put through the ringer at times this season but every time have come out on top, refusing to be beaten.

“I’ve had to learn a whole new racecraft which is required in touring cars and there have been some desperately unlucky moments which haven’t reflected our true form, but I believe everything is in place for a really big year for Rob Austin Racing when we come back in early April,” the Alcosense Breathalysers Team driver concluded.

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