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New Alfa ‘still rough around the edges’ despite pace-setting test

Rob Austin says that his new HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta is ‘still rough around the edges’ despite putting the car on top of the times in the official pre-season British Touring Car Championship test at Donington Park.

Austin completed just two and a half days of testing prior to the media day at Donington Park – with a half day shakedown at Donington and two days at Brands Hatch earlier in the month.

However the three-time race winner is already confident in his new car – describing the Giulietta as having plenty of scope to improve.

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“We’ve still got a long way to go with it, whereas last year we had that Toyota pretty much as hooked up as it could be,” said Austin to TouringCars.Net. “This year it’s very rough around the edges and I didn’t expect to be on top of the times.

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t showing their hand yet, so I’m fully aware it doesn’t mean anything but I’m also confident because I haven’t shown my hand yet. We will see – all will become clear when we get to Brands.”

Austin was glowing about the potential of his new car, which he expects to have more potential than the outgoing, longer-wheelbase Toyota.

“As a base car its very good. We’ve got some more work to do, we know that, but I’m more excited about this season than I have been in any other.

“We knew it was good on paper anyway, that’s why we desperately wanted to build it, and the boys, including Matt [Taylor, race engineer] in particular, who have overseen every single nut and bolt on it, have done such a good job. It seems like its inherently a fast car.

“On paper it should be good everywhere, but I’m sure there will be places that will suit it more – only time will tell.

“This is a much bigger opportunity for me than in any other year I’ve been in the BTCC.”

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