Rob Austin says he is ‘absolutely gutted’ about the contact with Tom Ingram in the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Snetterton, which compromised the Handy Motorsport racer’s entire weekend.
Austin was challenging Ingram for fourth in the first race of the day when he made a lunge up the inside of the Speedworks driver heading into Agostini, with the two drivers making contact and running off the circuit.
For Austin the incident marked the end of the race as he then limped back to the pits with broken front-right suspension.
“I went up the inside, was fully alongside, albeit a bit deeper than I wanted to, and maybe Tom didn’t see me and turned in,” explained Austin to TouringCars.Net.
“I’ve seen the coverage now and it maybe looks a little bit bad on my part. Basically I’m under control on the apex and according to my data I’m doing the same speed as I’ve been doing every other lap. As soon as we touched it’s broken my upright and because of that I’ve just ploughed straight on.
“I’d seen that I was a lot stronger on the brakes there for a few laps building up to it and it just seemed like the right moment.
“It’s gutting because Adam [Morgan] made that move stick and I think Matt Neal would have been easier to pass because he was backing us up.
“The Hondas are notoriously good on the brakes but Tom was struggling on the brakes, and our car is mega on the brakes at the moment. I think we could have put in a good challenge with Matt and it’s potentially cost us a podium there.
“I would do that move again. It’s racing isn’t it – if you don’t go for the gap, what are you doing here?”
The incident left Austin to start from 27th on the grid for the second race of the day, and although he gained 12 places to just finish in the points, he struggled with tyre wear later on in the race.
“I’m absolutely gutted, but like I say there was no intent for contact on my part, or Tom’s at the end of the day.
“It was OK [in race two] as in the first couple of laps we were really storming and I’m really proud of them.
“A bit of rubbing is unavoidable in this and I think that maybe I’ve picked up a bit of damage which has caused us to start understeering, so from mid-race onwards I was really struggling with my tyres.”
“From the moment of that contact in race one it’s been a recovery day for us, and all about salvaging what points we can.
“It’s a real shame because the car was so strong in race one and I think it would have been strong in race two, but it’s carnage in that pack in the first few laps, so you can’t get through that without a bit of contact.”
Austin went on to also retire from the final race of the day when contact from Team HARD’s Mike Epps pitched him into the Subaru of Ash Sutton on the opening lap of the race.