HMS Racing's Rob Austin says the balance of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is still 'nowhere near where he wants it', despite reaching the podium during the third British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Brands Hatch.

Austin defied the Alfa Romeo's lack of comparative running to the rest of the field by scoring a popular third place finish on the Giulietta's debut weekend in the championship.

The HMS Racing driver gradually rose back up the order after suffering a DNF during a wet opening race. Contact with Tom Oliphant's Mercedes A-Class sent the Giulietta into an early retirement with suspension damage but a slick tyre gamble in race two ultimately saw Austin start the reverse grid race from pole position.

Austin believes his lack of running in the wet conditions with the Alfa Romeo left him vulnerable during that opening race.

"I’ve got to be happy with that," Austin told Crash.net. "We weren’t happy with the position of 11th in qualifying. But for a car that’s three-days old, to be within two-tenths of pole position, we kind of had to be happy.

"The team was happier than I was. We were really unlucky in the first race. I’ve done a total of five laps in the wet in the car prior to this weekend.

"It was a case of being cautious building up to it and you’re a bit vulnerable when you do that. Moffat got me and folded in my wing mirror, which is fine, it happens.

"I came up to Druids and I knew somebody else was there so I left a good car width on the apex and just got an almighty clatter into side from Oliphant’s Mercedes."

Austin held the lead for almost half of the final race, but an early safety car period ultimate scuppered any chance of the two-time BTCC winner adding to his victory tally by scoring a famous victory after seeing his advantage all but wiped out.

"It was a shame about that safety car. I had that lead and it was building and I was still able to look after the tyres," Austin continued.

"I lost that as soon everyone bunched back up. As soon as Tom [Ingram] broke through I had to start leaning on them more and they just didn’t hold up.

"It’s the first time we’ve bolted softs to the car. We’ve got some more learning to do. I think considering the car is three-days and to have done what we’ve done this weekend is a pretty good show."

Equipped with a multitude of raw race data, Austin is hopeful of arriving at Donington Park 'with a much faster car'.

"It’s difficult because we’re having to change stuff all the time. We’re still nowhere the balance that I want. Every time we go out it’s a different car," Austin explained.

"We’ve got a load of data from this weekend so we should be able to arrive at Donington with a much faster car. It needs to be faster because we’ve got ballast to carry."

 

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