Rob Austin and ‘Sherman’ to return in 2014

Brands Hatch was a trying weekend with a poorly ‘Sherman’, the name given to Austin’s Audi A4, but the ever-popular Rob Austin says he has already turned his thoughts to 2014 after a season with “some terrific highs”.

The Rob Austin Racing team boss finally took a maiden pole at Knockhill and maiden win at Rockingham, with the fans’ cheers audible from one end of the grandstand to the other.

But the year has also provided some less-than straightforward moments, not least the huge crash in the opening weekend at Brands Hatch, which left the Audi A4 needing major repairs.

The finale didn’t go so well for Austin either, as an accident, wrenched neck muscles, a puncture and zero visibility from a misted-up windscreen left him with little to show for his endeavours.

Austin went off at Paddock Hill while running 11th in race one, and although his team were able to fix the car, race two saw his car’s heated windscreen fail, before a puncture, a flailing rear door and further visibility problems forced him out.

After finishing 18th in the final race of the year, Austin said: “Sherman has been poorly all weekend and we’ve not been able to put our finger on it.

“Only after qualifying did we discover there was something amiss with the front end of the car and then the prang in race one caused problems in races two and three. Normally you can keep improving a car over the three races but our lack of laps in the first two precluded that.

“On top of that I’ve done the muscles in my neck and won’t be able to look right for a few days. I’m not annoyed, just disappointed we’ve ended the season like this when we know the car is very definitely good enough to be top ten everywhere.

“But all we’re thinking about already is 2014. We’ve obviously had some terrific highs this year with our first pole position and first victory and now we’re going to spend the winter going over everything again and putting together a solid test and development programme so we are really well prepared for the new season.

“Above all I’d like to thank all our great sponsors and partners, particularly WIX who have been just the best title sponsor you can imagine and also Exocet who put their name to our other car for the first time this weekend.

“Similarly our fantastic fans who have shown the most incredible support – think back to the first round here in March when Sherman took a big hit and it was the kind generosity of those fans who helped fund the repair which enabled us to go on and have such an encouraging season. They have been magnificent.”