Robb Holland and his Rotek Racing team will return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park this weekend.
Holland was lucky to escape injury in a heavy collision with the wall at Donington Park in April and was a notable absentee from the championship's most recent outing on Hampshire's ultra-high speed Thruxton circuit last month.
The incident, which ironically occurred at Hollywood corner, saw Holland shoot off the track and into an unprotected concrete wall at barely unabated speeds and Rotek Racing had the impossible task of repairing its extensively damaged Audi S3 saloon and sourcing parts for a brand new model that had its global launch in the spring.
The NGTC-spec S3 saloon has turned heads since its unveiling due to its striking blue livery and its supreme build quality, and Rotek Racing has taken as much care as it did during the car's initial build to ensure it makes a triumphant return to the BTCC fray at Cheshire's picturesque circuit.
For the first time since 1996, the BTCC will take to Oulton Park's extended 'International' configuration, which incorporates the banked Shell Oils hairpin. Regarded by many as a mini Nürburgring Nordschleife, the circuit is narrow and undulating and requires a ballsy approach that makes it a favourite among drivers and fans alike.
Holland made the trip from Rotek Racing's Nürburgring base to Cheshire earlier than usual and spent Tuesday at Oulton Park this week to learn the lay of the land before taking to the circuit in anger with an upgraded and fettled Audi.
“I should feel right at home at Oulton Park, because it looks challenging in the same ways as the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a few blind crests and an abundance of elevation and camber changes” said Holland. “Fast, flowing circuits suit me very well, but I think we might struggle a bit with the handling of the Audi S3 saloon, as we tend to suffer with high-speed instability and there are a lot of quick corners.
“It feels like a long time since I've been in the car and I've been unable to get any testing in since Donington Park. From the team's standpoint, got all of the car's mechanicals are 100 per cent and the package is exactly where we wanted it to be initially. We had a choice of putting it back together the way it was or enhancing it. The bodywork wasn't quite right, so we've cleaned that up and the car looks even better than it did before. In addition, we had some overheating issues and decided to improve the airflow through the front-end, which should give us more horsepower.”
Holland added: “Ideally, I'd like to take another step forward from where we was at Donington Park and hopefully move nearer to scoring our first points in the BTCC. However, the priority is to try a few new things, so we'll be treating the weekend as an extended test.”