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Austin steps up BTCC preparation at Brands Hatch

Thursday, February 27 2014

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship fan favourite Rob Austin continued his busy pre-season testing programme at Brands Hatch today (Thursday), ahead of the opening round at the Kent venue on 29/30 March.

Running an un-liveried and redeveloped Audi A4, Rob is aiming to raise his game after an inconsistent 2013 season, despite taking his maiden victory. "For us it's the first time that the regulations have stayed the same, so we're really excited about this season," he said. "It gives us an opportunity to refine everything we've got and I think last year we proved that when we get it right we can run at the front. It's the first time that we've been able to test pre-season, and we're learning so much about the car. These are all things that we wanted to try last year but daren't on a race weekend. I'm very excited about this year, I think we can be a lot more consistent compared to last year, and we've been quick everywhere, matching the frontrunners pace."

Of course Rob will need to overcome seven champions in 2014, but this doesn't faze him: "As a driver my goalposts have remained the same throughout - wins and pole positions. It's brilliant for the championship to have them in, Alain (Menu) taught me to heel and toe sixteen years ago when I was driving for his team in Formula Renault. I always looked up to him and it's going to be really cool to be racing against such big names. But from a driving point of view I don't think it makes any difference to me. It will be more competitive at the front, but you just concentrate on what you're doing and do your best, and I think this year my best is going to be pretty damn good and able to mix it with them."

Rob will be running two cars again this year but the identity of the second driver is yet to be confirmed. When pushed, he simply said: "The car's being built up and we should be shaking it down next week. I don't have any news on drivers yet, we're just busy testing."

However it's likely that all eyes will be on Rob's Audi, nicknamed 'Sherman', and the 33-year old has built up a huge following since his BTCC debut in 2011. It's a question on which he is uncharacteristically stumped: "I've no idea why! I don't have a clue but the support I get is absolutely mind-blowing and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it and BTCC crowds are just brilliant. That's what we're here for - to put on a show and entertain and to have so much support is just really humbling and I do love it. Exocet fuel additives and Duo Plc really appreciate the support from the fans too."

When he returns to Brands Hatch in a months' time, he aims to put on a show for his fans, who should make up a fair proportion of the Indy circuit's natural amphitheatre. "We're going to do our best," he confirmed. "We've qualified in the top ten here over the last two years. Obviously gaps do open up, and I was pretty fortunate the first lap last year to get into the lead, but it's British Touring Cars, you never can tell! But I'm definitely feeling confident and I'm hoping to improve on last year's results in race one and definitely races two and three! "

Tickets for the 2014 rounds at Brands Hatch Indy, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Brands Hatch GP are now on sale from £26 and you can find out more and order them by clicking the links for each circuit. Money-saving season passes are also available. Click here for more details.