Terrific Top Six Performance From Austin And HMS Racing On Competitive BTCC Test Return At Snetterton
Popular motorsport team HMS Racing made a very welcome, and particularly impressive, return to competitive Kwik-Fit British Touring Car Championship action this week, during the annual two-day Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.
Although embarking on a sabbatical from the BTCC this year, Swindon’s HMS has been working tirelessly on the development of its 2018 podium-finishing Alfa Romeo Giulietta and fan-favourite racer Rob Austin underlined the car’s potential on Tuesday, 16th July, and Wednesday, 17th July.
Beginning day one working through a variety of set-up changes on older tyres, outright pace wasn’t the focus at that point and Austin ended the two sessions with a quickest lap of 1m57.768 seconds which put him in the middle of the pack.
On Wednesday, HMS ran new Dunlop tyres for the first time and after producing a significantly improved lap of 1m56.889 seconds (91.43mph) during the morning to go sixth quickest, Evesham’s Austin shot to the top of the times in the afternoon with a lap of 1m56.556 seconds (91.69mph).
Fourth fastest overall for the second day, Austin concluded the entire test sixth and within just 0.4 seconds of the outright pace to confirm the squad’s clear and unquestioned potential in the BTCC which is, by any measure, majorly unfinished business for both driver and team!
“I was a bit rusty getting going in the first session today [Wednesday] on our first run with new tyres, and I left a couple of tenths on the table there”, reflected Austin, “All in all, though, we were back into the groove reasonably quickly and the car improved dramatically on day one before we made more progress on the second day.
“It’s nice to have come out of the test topping the times in the final session, fourth for the day and sixth overall across the two days, and it shows the strong development work the guys have been doing on the car during our sabbatical year. We’re continuing to work hard on being back in the BTCC for 2020, this performance shows prospective partners what a formidable package we have.”
Team principal Simon Belcher added: “We spent all day on Tuesday running old tyres, working through a lot of stuff with the car, and then put new rubber on for day two. It’s fantastic to have topped the final session, and to be sixth overall for the test, and we’ve shown good consistency in hot temperatures over the last couple of days which was one of our weaker points last season.
“This championship never stands still, we haven’t come back to where things were during our last BTCC race. Everyone has improved, upped their game, so I think we can be very satisfied. It’s been important to have shown our competitiveness, now the hard work continues on development of the car and attracting the right commercial partners to enable us to be back on the grid in 2020.”
Departing Snetterton with their tails justifiably high, HMS Racing will now be preparing for the fourth event of the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy season – where the team fields the ex-Rob Austin ‘Sherman’ Audi A4 for Alex Day – which takes place over the weekend 27th/28th July at Brands Hatch.