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  • “Car is good enough for pole position” he says after qualifying 11th

“I’m quite happy but frustrated at the same time,” declared Worcestershire’s Rob Austin after qualifying his Exocet Racing Audi 11th fastest – just 0.260s away from pole position – in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship’s first qualifying session of 2014 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

Rob added: “We’ve still got this bit of understeer which I’d say is costing us around two tenths of a second. I genuinely believe the car is good enough for pole position. It’s nice to be right in the ball park time-wise, but you can see why I’m a bit miffed with it.”

It means Rob (Evesham) will line up on the sixth row of the grid for the first of tomorrow’s opening three races of the new BTCC season which will be shown live as part of a mammoth seven and a half hour broadcast on ITV4 (10.30am-6.00pm).

He said: “Looking at the positives that qualifying session is the only time all year all the grid will qualify with no success ballast in their cars so to be on the pace straight out of the blocks shows our pre-season testing form was true. I also believe our race pace will be stronger tomorrow than a number of cars who will be starting in front of me.”

Meanwhile Rob’s new 2014 team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) qualified 21st fastest of the 30 runners for his big BTCC debut. Still acclimatising to a BTCC car – his Rob Austin Racing-prepared AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi – plus the Dunlop race tyres used in the championship he was impressively just 0.773s off pole position.

“My first BTCC qualifying session started with a bit of a bang – a number of cars I was in the middle of all shuffled up and I had to take to the grass on a new set of tyres to avoid any contact!” explained Hunter. “Other than that it was fairly straightforward but it’s all about time in the car and learning how to get the most out of these tyres.

“Like Rob I think there are a number of cars in front of me on the grid who won’t be as strong in race trim tomorrow so I’m aiming to make up places, push for results in the top 15 and score championship points.”

Timetable: Rob Austin Racing, Brands Hatch BTCC Sunday 30 March 2014
9.10am-9.40am Pit Lane Autograph Session; 11.45am BTCC Race 1; 2.15pm; BTCC Race 2; 5.00pm BTCC Race 3 (all races 24 laps/29.28 miles)

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