Snetterton 300 Circuit hosts the eagerly awaited resumption of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship next weekend, 29th/30th July, where ultra-quick racer Rob Austin is determined to hit the ground running and get the second half of the season off to a great start for Handy Motorsport.
Six long weeks since the previous event at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, where the Toyota Avensis driver only just missed out on his second outright BTCC podium of the season, the Evesham ace is now counting the days until the championship roars back into action for rounds 16, 17 and 18.
Throughout the first five race meetings Austin and Handy Motorsport have made good progress with some notable scoring consistency too – the Duo and Northgate-backed driver is currently eighth in the overall championship and second in the hotly contested Independents Trophy standings.
While the lengthy summer break has enabled drivers and teams to refresh and revitalise ahead of next weekend’s visit to Snetterton, for Austin and Handy Motorsport the last few weeks have been just as busy as the season itself with plenty of work on the car…as well as exciting plans for 2018.
Additionally, along with the majority of the rest of the BTCC grid, the squad took part in the officially timed Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton a fortnight ago where a variety of set-up work was conducted and vital data gathered ahead of the return to East Anglia a few days from now.
“We’re hoping the second half of the season will bring more steps forward”, said an extremely buoyant Austin, “Some stuff we tried with the car at the Snetterton tyre test didn’t go exactly as we expected, but we learnt a lot and definitely made gains.
“Snetterton will suit us better than some of the other tracks we’ve visited recently. We had our first podium there last year and that was, basically, from the back of the grid in the first race, working our way through in race two and then racing to the podium in the last one. We should have a strong car next weekend, I’m really looking forward to it.”
All things being equal during the sixth race meeting of the season, silverware is certainly a realistic target for Austin and Handy but the former category race winner is also hungrier than ever to make a return to the top step of the outright BTCC podium.
With the No.11 Toyota Avensis working well, and Austin growing in confidence in only his second season with a front-wheel drive car, there are strong aspirations of challenging for the Wiltshire squad’s maiden outright victory at some point during the second half of the campaign.
“We’re still learning, we’ve taken big strides and I’m still getting to grips with the front-wheel drive, but we’re fine tuning and getting better”, said Austin, “The target is still to win a race or two this season, I think we have the pace to do it. The team deserves one and I think it would be well earned.
“Championship position-wise we’re looking good in the overall standings and the Independents, but I’m still kicking myself about Brands at the start of the year. I made a silly mistake there which really did cost us points. The plan is not to make any more mistakes for the rest of the season!”
Opening practice at Snetterton 300 Circuit will get underway at 09.30 on Saturday, 29th July, with session two at 12.10 and qualifying – which will be streamed live online at the www.itv.com/btcc website – beginning at 15.50.
On Sunday, 30th July, round 16 of the BTCC season will commence at approximately 11.35, round 17 will get underway at around 14.05 and round 18 will start just after 17.00. All three races will be screened live on ITV4 and streamed online HERE
2017 BTCC Drivers Championship Standings:
8th Rob Austin, 109pts
2017 Independents Trophy Standings:
2nd Rob Austin, 182pts
2017 HiQ Teams Championship Standings:
8th Handy Motorsport, 108pts
2017 Independents Team Trophy Standings:
4th Handy Motorsport, 183pts