9 September 2014
BTCC Rockingham: Austin: It was a roller coaster weekend
Rob Austin: Roller coasters the right word in describing my weekend. I was really gutted after qualifying.
Exocet Audi's Rob Austin admits it was a 'roller coaster' weekend at Rockingham despite scoring his first BTCC victory since his maiden triumph at exactly the same venue one year ago.
Austin brilliantly took his second career win at Rockingham's final reversed grid race of the day after seeing off BTCC legend Alain Menu in a relatively comfortable manner on the softer rubber.
His race three success, however, which now moves him into the top ten of the standings, didn't look probable after a terrible Saturday left the Exocet A4 man seemingly down and out in 13th position.
Austin said a Herculean late-night effort from his team amid sizeable set-up changes, which continued even into the second race of the day, turned around what could have been a missed opportunity for his Exocet squad.
“Yeah, roller coasters the right word in describing my weekend. I was really gutted after qualifying,” Austin told crash.net. “We tried something in free practice, it didn't work so for qualifying we just bolted on last years set up and it was rubbish.
“Slightly different tyres this year, different day - all sorts of variables, which just didn't play into our hands. I didn't have the car under me, so I was absolutely gutted to qualify 13th.
“My team are incredible. My engineer and I worked on the set up till midnight, just as the rest of the boys were. You know, we don't get down and out; we pick ourselves up and say 'right, lets try harder'.
“When you qualify badly, it's all about playing the long game and staying out of trouble. We tweaked the car again for race two, had a good run in the first couple of laps and that was pretty key in getting past the pack and getting into clear air. So then I was able to look after the tyres and pick a few cars off at the end, which was nice.”
Finally, despite what looked to be a healthy margin over Menu in race three, Austin said as the soft tyre began to degrade, he was fully on the limit in order to preserve the vital cushion over the BMR Volkswagen.
“We knew Menu was on the mediums, so I realised; I had to get a good start, I had to get ahead so I didn't have to push and fortunately we did that, which is really difficult with this long first gear,” Austin explained.
“Although I was on softs, the FWD's have such an advantage over RWD's over the first couple of laps, its really hard to manage your pace, look after your tyres and keep ahead all at the same time.
“Then I managed to build a little bit of a gap and there was one key bit in the mid-section where I could just pull a bit on Menu every lap. By the end of the race I was on it! I had no tyres left, but fortunately I had a big of enough gap back to Menu to hold on.”
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