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Simon Belcher feels ‘mixed emotions’ after difficult weekend for Rob Austin

Simon Belcher summarised the triple header of British Touring Car Championship races at Oulton Park as ‘another frustrating weekend’ as Rob Austin’s continued improvement in the Toyota Avensis went unrewarded.

Last weekend’s trip to Cheshire provided Austin with a solitary point for his efforts, achieved during race one. A strong showing in race two was curtailed on the sixth lap as a result of damage and he managed to excel on the soft tyres in the third contest but ultimately fell short of more points in 16th.

This came after a disappointing qualifying session that saw Austin line up just 19th, despite only being 0.7 seconds behind pole-sitter, Colin Turkington.

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Handy Motorsport has seen a marked improvement since two-time race winner Austin joined during the off-season, making the switch from his self-run Audi A4 to the Toyota Avensis. So far this campaign, Austin has claimed a total of eight outright points finishes for Simon Belcher’s outfit, including a top eight finish at both Donington Park and Thruxton.

The end result of the weekend’s hardship leaves Austin placed 16th in the Drivers championship with a total of 39 points, six adrift of Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith in front and a whole century behind standings leader, Sam Tordoff.

Commenting after the weekends action, Belcher was left rueful of qualifying and believes that Austin was left with a difficult challenge all weekend as a result.

“It’s been a weekend of mixed emotions really”, said Belcher.

“We know we had the pace in qualifying to be in the top 10, had the lap gone smoothly, and we had a good race car but with so much to do in the races Rob had another very big challenge,”

“Getting into the points in race one was great but race two was a massive disappointment, Rob definitely had the chance to be in the top 10,”

“He did everything he could on the Soft tyre in race three, almost made it into the points, but overall it’s been another frustrating weekend for us and a case of what might have been.”

The series reconvenes at Croft on the 18th-19th June for another triple header to mark the halfway stage in this years championship.

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