Rob Austin believes that some of his British Touring Car Championship rivals will have an advantage over his Toyota at Thruxton this weekend, as the Handy Motorsport driver looks to maintain his top ten form.
Austin has qualified inside the top ten at every BTCC meeting so far this year, and last time out at Donington he inherited pole position when Ashley Sutton was excluded after the session.
The 36-year-old, who like many is a fan of the high-speed Hampshire circuit, believes that Thruxton won’t play to the advantages of his Toyota Avensis as much as the previous two circuits did.
“Thruxton is very different to any other track on the BTCC calendar, it’s very unique and I absolutely love it there,” said Austin. “It’s fast and rewards bravery but you do need a good car under you.
“I’ve been saying all year the top ten in qualifying would be a good result and we’ve done that twice so far at the first two meetings, hopefully we can continue the run at Thruxton.
“It’s clear from the test day the other week some cars have an advantage, but we’ll be doing our best to bridge the gap with bravery and commitment.
“Three solid points finishes are the target, we haven’t had the best of luck so far in races two and three of a weekend but at some point that has to turn for us – hopefully this weekend at Thruxton!”
Although Austin currently sits outside the top ten in the championship, being 13th overall with 30 points, Team Principal Simon Belcher acknowledges that this is in part down to a run of poor luck in the races, with Austin having retired from the second race of both of the first two meetings of the year.
“We’ve got to be realistic for Thruxton,” said Belcher. “Pole position at Donington was great but we know Thruxton doesn’t suit our car as well; I think the Hondas will dominate.
“We should be able to challenge for a solid top ten in qualifying and, if that’s the case, hopefully we can put together three strong races for the first time this season.
“Our performance so far has been far better than our championship position suggests, so the target for Thruxton is to bag some big points.
“It’s a great circuit which demands commitment, but you also need the chassis to work well in order to be fast there and to be able to carry the speed through the key corners. You have to be brave, but you need the chassis to work for you as well.”