Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Rob Austin pleased with Alfa Romeo return in Snetterton test

Rob Austin declared himself happy with HMS Racing’s performance on its return to BTCC action during the two-day Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton.

The Alfa Romeo team elected to take part in the test despite not being part of the grid this season, having taken the decision to take a sabbatical from the series.

Austin would post the quickest time of the Wednesday afternoon session at the wheel of the Giulietta with a lap time that would be good enough for sixth on the combined time-sheets, leaving the three-time race winner happy with the way the test had gone.

“All in all, 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,” he said. “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 was also pleased with the way the car had performed on its return to the track.

“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,” he said. “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.”