Rob Austin gave Power Maxed Racing its best weekend of the year so far in the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, as the series returnee finished in the points in all three races.
Austin was standing in for the injured Mike Bushell in a one-off outing for the team, getting behind the wheel for the first time in anger on Saturday.
As a late entry, Austin had to carry additional ballast throughout the event, as it is the third event for the team since making a late appearance to the championship at Oulton Park.
Despite that, Austin qualified in a respectable 16th on Saturday in his first competitive touring car session since the 2018 season finale.
From there, the first race saw the Evesham racer gain a place at the start, before moving up two places through the demise of Jake Hill and Colin Turkington ahead. He then passed Chris Smiley’s Hyundai on the final lap to take 12th.
The second race was much of the same for Austin, who held station to secure another 12th, despite ditching the additional ballast.
In the final race of the day, Austin went one better to secure 11th, getting past Excelr8 Motorsport’s Senna Proctor on lap nine and pressuring Honda’s Dan Cammish in the latter stages.
The experienced BTCC racer admitted that he had enjoyed his return to the paddock with his local team.
“I enjoyed my weekend more than I was expecting, to be honest,” said Austin. “PMR are a great team, and you don’t need me to tell you that they have built a great BTCC car in the Astra – it’s already well proven.
“No matter how good the car is, coming back at Thruxton with zero testing, new driver ballast on board and in a new car was always going to be a challenge after two years out of the seat.
“I feel I got up to speed as well as I could thanks to the support of some great people in the team.
“Having said that, I think if I hear the word ‘solid’ again my head might explode!”
Team Principal Adam Weaver was pleased with Austin’s efforts at Thruxton, emphasising that despite not being a full-season entry this year, the team is not ‘there to make up the numbers’.
“We’ve not had the best of luck this year, and despite the car being consistently one of the quickest on track, we had no results to show for it going into Thruxton,” said Weaver.
“When we realised that Mike Bushell wasn’t going to be able to race, I was a bit nervous if we’re honest, but as soon as we agreed Rob getting into the car I knew we were onto a winner.
“I couldn’t be happier with our results from the weekend; Rob showed great pace throughout, and slotted into the team perfectly.
“Despite being six races down on the rest of the grid, as well as bad luck preventing any points at the previous six, we’re not at the bottom of the points table.
“It shows that as much as we’re not going to be fighting for the title this season, we’re definitely not there just to make up the numbers.”
PMR will field BTCC rookie Jade Edwards for this weekend’s races at Silverstone as she becomes the first woman to race in the championship for 13 years.