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Rob Austin pleased with second after managing Subaru duo

After securing a third podium of the season in the first British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch, Rob Austin was pleased to have successfully managed the gaps to Silverline Subaru BMR Racing duo Colin Turkington and Jason Plato in front and behind.

The Handy Motorsport driver made a strong start and showed the nose of his Toyota Avensis to the outside of eventual race-winner Turkington into Paddock Hill on the opening lap, though he was moved to the outside into Druids by the Ulsterman and ultimately conceded the battle for the lead.

From thereon in after a safety car restart following title contender Andrew Jordan’s retirement at the iconic uphill hairpin, Austin came under the attention of double champion Jason Plato in third. Though racing with one damaged rear-view mirror, Austin was able to keep the Levorg GT behind and score a popular result for Simon Belcher’s independent outfit.

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Speaking exclusively to moments after stepping from the podium, Austin admitted he had been desperate to get in front at the start, but conceded the runner-up spot was still a strong result given how tense each of today’s title-deciding contests is set to be.

“I was absolutely adamant to edge out in front.” admitted Austin.

“I’ve been watching Colin’s starts for the last few years. I thought that maybe I had a chance to do him off the line, got alongside, which was pretty good for a front-wheel drive, I think.

I had good grip, but he just knew where to put the car, and it was always going to be a long shot, but during it, I lost my wing mirror, which gave me a massive blind spot, so it was about looking out for JP all the time.

If I’m honest, it’s just such a big result for us, for everyone at Handy Motorsport, and it was quite tense. I feel I didn’t drive at my best, and could have been a bit more comfortable in second, but nonetheless, I’m really happy with that result.”

He also felt it was more productive to defend against the interests of Plato following the restart than chasing a dominant Turkington, and paid tribute to Handy Motorsport for engineering a setup on the car that allowed him to defend successfully.

“After a couple of laps after the restart, it became pretty clear just to keep it consistent and neat and tidy. I know he was behind me and what he had at stake. He knows I’m clean driver and that if he sticks it up the inside, I’ll give him racing room.

I was kind of expecting him and watching out for him without one mirror, so it was quite tense and I didn’t relax. Fortunately, I had a good car under me, thanks to Handy Motorsport and DUO plc.”

Austin faces an unfamiliar situation in the middle contest as he puts sixty-six kilograms of success ballast in the Avensis for the very first time, though he remains focused on taking a first victory for the team; a third in his career.

“I want to win it. Who knows, we’ll see. I don’t know, as we’ve not run this amount of weight in the car before, so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll do my damnedest to get on the podium.”

The second race begins at 14:30.

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