Rob Austin remains confident of securing race wins in the British Touring Car Championship this year, despite falling short in last weekend’s races at Donington Park.
The Handy Motorsport driver found himself in the ideal position after qualifying on Saturday, initially qualifying on the front row of the grid with strong pace before inheriting pole position, the team’s first, when the Subaru of Ash Sutton was excluded.
The first race of the day saw Austin involved in a close battle for the lead, including some early race contact with fellow Toyota racer Tom Ingram. In the end, though, Austin lost out to eventual race winner Aiden Moffat and Honda’s Matt Neal, leaving him to take third and a first podium of the season.
Race two proved to be one to forget for Austin, who failed to finish after being fired off into the Old Hairpin gravel trap.
A drive from the back of the grid in race three yielded a points finish in 13th for Austin, who admitted to being somewhat confounded by his mixed fortune in the races.
“I don’t know how to feel about the weekend really”, said Austin. “It was obviously fantastic to get the team’s first pole in qualifying, and I’m really happy with our first podium of the season, but we had the car to win the first race and didn’t come away with the haul of points we wanted.
“If I was to lose the win to anyone, though, I’m glad it was Aiden, he’s a good lad and deserved it.
“Race two was just annoying, being shovelled out of the way and ending the race in the gravel is never good.
“I was happy with what we managed to do in race three though, I started steady and built up the pace. It was nothing special in terms of the result, but I’m quite happy with it from the back.
“There are lots of positives to take away, I know we can win races this season.”
Handy Motorsport Team Principal Simon Belcher added that he was pleased to see Austin show the team’s pace even if it didn’t result in a first win which the team had hoped for.
“It’s fantastic to get our first ever pole position and the first podium of the year”, said Belcher. “We had hoped we could hold off the rest for our first win but it wasn’t to be.
“Rob got jacked-up by Tom Ingram in the first corner, which held him up, but he raced well to put some real points on the board. Race two spoiled the weekend a bit, but we proved our pace.”