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Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott after improved Donington showing

Rob Austin and his team-mate Hunter Abbott are seeking an upturn in fortunes at Donington Park this weekend as the British Touring Car Championship visits the Leicestershire circuit for the second round of the season.

Austin sits 11th in the championship standings after a fifth-place finish in the final race of the day at Brands Hatch, while 11th- and tenth-place finishes for Abbott marked his best points-scoring weekend in the championship to date.

Team owner Austin’s result was the subject of some controversy, however, after he confessed to deliberately picking his own number from the reverse grid draw, having finished the second race in tenth in his Audi A4.

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But with the incident now firmly behind him, the two-time race winner was aiming to put things right at Donington Park – as he looks to improve on  a haul of just three points in the past two seasons – where he hoped warmer temperatures would play into his team’s hands.

“The cold weather really put paid to our chances at Brands,” said Austin. “We really struggled to get heat into them and also made a wrong decision to run the softer compound tyre in the first race – we should have waited until later in the day.

“I’m hoping the mini heat wave we’re experiencing can keep going until about 6.00pm on Sunday at Donington. Then we’ll at least have a better chance in terms of tyre performance with our car but to capitalise on that we need to make sure we’ve found a good set-up that works around Donington.

“I’ve always gone well at Donington in anything else I’ve raced there but for some reason it’s always worked against the Audi. It’s a similar situation at Thruxton which follows Donington in May. These are two bogey circuits coming up for us therefore – no pressure then on my ace engineer Matt Taylor to deliver the goods!”

Abbott was also confident that the predicted warmer conditions would play to the Audi’s strengths, with the coming weekend presenting him with an opportunity to continue his strong start to the season.

“The heat is on – or at least that’s what we’re hoping,” he said. “The warmer the weather the better for us, without a doubt. If we can get the Audis working around Donington – and I’m wary of how it isn’t the best circuit on the calendar for us – then we just might be able to show better than we did at Brands Hatch where I don’t believe our results reflected just what we were capable of.

“After dicing with and getting the better of a three-time world touring car champion like Andy Priaulx, it was disappointing to have an eighth place result slip through my fingers with a broken power steering in the closing laps. On saying that I was very pleased with how I raced across all three races at the start of my second season in the BTCC which is like nothing else I’ve done before.

“I’m very geed up for Donington and like Rob definitely hoping to be in or around the top ten in all three races. But like I say we need it hot – scorchio!”

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