• Knockhill fan Rob Austin aims for upturn in fortunes in Scotland
• Overdue podium in DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing’s sights
• Austin hungry to turn huge potential of Alfa Romeo into big points
• Evesham ace raring to go for next instalment of BTCC action
Knockhill Circuit in Fife, the home of Scottish motorsport, hosts the annual visit of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this coming weekend, 25th/26th August, where Alfa Romeo racer Rob Austin is hungry to fully realise the true potential of his 2018 charger.
The whole DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing team makes the 400-mile journey from its base in Swindon to Scotland later this week and is determined to make the eighth race meeting of the BTCC season one to remember.
Frustratingly, the maiden season for the squad’s glorious Alfa Romeo Giulietta has been tempered by an unbelievable run of misfortune. Costing Evesham driver Austin a hatful of points on multiple occasions, it has also limited the team to one podium finish thus far.
Without any shadow of a doubt, though, the current DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing package has an immense amount of potential – as seen numerous times this season – and the team continues to work night and day to unlock the results those efforts undoubtedly deserve.
“I love Knockhill, it’s one of my favourite tracks to drive, there’s always a great atmosphere and the guys at the circuit always do a great job of running the event”, commented Austin, “I’ve been on the podium there quite a few times and I’ve never seen a crowd like it.
“The potential is unquestionably there to visit the podium again, as it has been for some time now, but events outside our control have stopped us from demonstrating it. I would love to just have a clean, fair run at the weekend – if we do I’m sure we can be right up there.”
He added: “I’m starting to feel like a broken record saying our luck will change, so I think for this weekend we’ve got to manage our expectations, carry on giving it maximum effort and wait and see what fate delivers.”
While Knockhill is one of the shortest tracks on the calendar, just 1.27-miles, it is also one of the most spectacular with incredible corners such as Duffus Dip, the crested chicane and Clark’s always posing a test to both man and machine.
Traditionally a track which suits rear-wheel drive cars, the front-wheel drive Alfa Romeo will be at a disadvantage in that respect but with Austin something of a Knockhill specialist – he first raced there back in 1998 in the single-seater Formula Renault UK Championship – there are realistic hopes for one of the better weekends of the year for DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing.
Famous for providing the most stunning vista on the entire BTCC calendar, with a view overlooking the Firth of Forth and the famous Forth Bridges, Knockhill is also renowned for the huge crowds and the incredible support they give to the touring car competitors.
Looking forward to the weekend, team principal Simon Belcher said: “As a driver I always loved Knockhill and I know Rob does too, the racing is great and so is the crowd. We’re just hoping the long trip north brings us the good fortune we have been missing recently.”
Everyone at DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing will be hoping Belcher’s exploits on the water this past weekend, in the fifth round of the British Jet Sport Championship, will be a good omen for Saturday and Sunday’s BTCC action at Knockhill.
Making his penultimate appearance of the year in Jet Sport, the Swindon sportsman took a fabulous overall victory at AVOS Water Sports Den, situated at Leisure Lakes near Preston, and notably defeated ex-World Champion James Bushell in the process for the first time since Belcher returned to Jet Sport.
Taking four race victories and a brace of runner-up placings across the six races contested, Belcher put together a superb weekend in Lancashire and will make his final outing of the year in Jet Sport in Belgium just under a fortnight from now.
Turning attention back to the BTCC, opening free practice will begin the track action at Knockhill on Saturday, 25th August, at 09.50 with session two following at 12.30 ahead of qualifying – which will be streamed live online at the www.itv.com/btccwebsite – at 15.25.
On Sunday, 26th August, round 22 will start at 11.50, round 23 will commence at 14.25 and round 24 will conclude the weekend’s action at 17.20. All three races will be screened live on ITV4 with the addition of online streaming.
2018 BTCC Driver Standings (after Rd21)
16th Rob Austin, 72pts
2018 BTCC Independents Driver Standings (after Rd21)
8th Rob Austin, 146pts