Three-time British Touring Car Championship race winner Rob Austin believes his team, HMS Racing, are just beginning to unlock the potential of its new-for-2018 Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Austin scored a podium in race three at the Brands Hatch season opener, but is keeping his expectations realistic heading into the Donington Park round next weekend.
As Austin currently places fourth in the overall BTCC standings, his Giulietta will be carrying 48kg of success ballast heading into qualifying and race one of the weekend at the Leicestershire circuit.
“Donington is a track I’ve always gone well on, I’ve won there in pretty much everything I’ve driven and last year we managed to stick the old Toyota on pole position so I’m looking forward to being back there,” he said.
“Where, normally, I would be hoping to repeat last year’s pole position and aim for race wins, I’m very aware we’ll be carrying a substantial lump of lead in a car which we still don’t fully understand.”
Despite a successful debut at Brands Hatch, Austin believes there is still much more to come from the Giulietta.
“I said last time out [at Brands Hatch] we are only really scratching the surface when it comes to this car’s potential, and that still rings true as we head to Donington.”
Since the curtain-raiser, Austin was one of 25 BTCC drivers to take part in an official test day at Thruxton in Hampshire last week.
While clocking more miles in the Alfa Romeo was useful, he believes it will have little bearing on the car’s performance at Donington Park.
“Although the official Thruxton test was useful, Thruxton is a very, very different circuit where we also use a different tyre so most of the data we gather is only relevant to that specific circuit,” said Austin.
“Unfortunately, that test meant we were unable to fit in a more relevant test day as well.
“So, for Donington, my expectations are realistic. I’m hoping we can get in a solid points-scoring weekend for now and once we have opportunity to start unlocking some potential in the DUO Motorsport with HMS Alfa Romeo, we’ll be aiming for wins.”