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Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott lament driving standards

Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott were left frustrated by their rivals after the British Touring Car Championship’s visit to Croft, with both drivers suffering from contact in Sunday’s final race.

Austin had qualified a season’s-best seventh on Saturday but fell back to 13th in the opening race – although he would start race two from seventh once more after setting the seventh-best lap in his Audi A4, while Abbott secured a career-best BTCC grid slot by recording the ninth-best time.

The pair went on to enjoy competitive runs as they crossed the line in seventh and 12th respectively, but their weekends finished in less favourable fashions with both compromised by contact from their competitors in race three.

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And Austin, who was forced to retire from the third encounter, said he ‘expected better’ from some of his rivals after his exit.

“I felt comfortable in that position early on and knew a lot of the others now had to run the soft tyre,” said Austin of the third race. “I felt the race was going to come to us but then, for the second meeting in a row, people simply started driving into my car.

“The second hit up the back sent me into another car so we had to retire with heavy front and rear-end damage. It’s utterly needless. I had a perfectly good hard but fair battle with Shedden – really enjoyable in fact – but then you get some drivers who just don’t seem to know how to do it. Not impressed really as you expect better at this level.”

Abbott shared some of his team-mate’s disappointment, but was able to take comfort from his one-lap pace in race one as well as a spirited race two drive.

“It’s frustrating because it happened right near the end when I was on for a point,” he said. “Instead that point went to the driver who smashed into the back of me and then very nearly sent me into the barriers.

“But there are some positives to take from the weekend. OK, race one I had a typical touring car rub with another driver and came off second best with a quick spin but still fought back to only just finish just outside the points . More importantly I set the ninth fastest lap time to give me P9 for the race two grid – my best starting position in the BTCC.

“Race two was very hard fought with a group of us together. Andrew Jordan managed to squeeze past me which cost me momentum and a couple more were able to come by as well. Twelfth place in the end was still promising but without that one moment I felt I could have had P7. Again the pace was good.”

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