Rob Austin is confident that his team’s new NGTC Audi A4 will be on the grid for the opening round at Brands Hatch next weekend. Austin told TouringCarTimes that the car would “definitely” race at the Kent circuit and exuded confidence, despite driver David Pinkney rating the likelihood of an appearance at just 50/50.
“One car, definitely. Come hell or high water it will be there!” said Austin in response to his drivers worries. “We will certainly be there with one car with some testing miles on it, and as I’ve always maintained we believe in it otherwise we wouldn’t have this package and I believe it will be a very competitive car.
“I’m in this to go racing”, continues Austin in response to there being no Audis at Silverstone on Thursday. “So the fact that we’re not on media day doesn’t mean an awful lot to me. The fact is if we had of been here we’d have had to fling the car together, we’d have lost a day today of building work and then we’d have to take off what we’d thrown on and build it properly.
“We’re here to go racing and it’s all about next weekend and we don’t want to lose the time we’ve got.”
Time though is of concern to Austin’s so far only confirmed driver David Pinkney, who hopes to test at Rockingham on Thursday prior to Brands Hatch.
“I think that you can’t afford to miss three races,” said Pinkney. “If it’s not on the grid I might not bother. Obviously I want to be out there in a car that is competitive and have a go at having a dream of having a look at the championship. I think the car is capable. If the car is a similar weight with the specification we’ve got, or even a little bit heavier, then I think it is capable of winning.
“The biggest issue to me at the moment is that the car’s not finished and it’s not here today,” he continued. “I believe that the car and engine will be done next week and we’ll get one or two days testing next week.
“Obviously it’s a concern, the more time you get in a car the more time you have to sort out suspension and things so the quicker it will be.
“But,” the Harpenden racer stressed, “I’m not too concerned as you get in these things and drive them,” emphasising his excitement for the project and his belief that Audi can once again be a BTCC winner.
Austin concedes that a second Audi is unlikely for Brands Hatch.
“I can’t really comment on the second one as there’s nothing solid. There is a question mark over whether we can get it done in time. Our boys have now taken over the build of the car up at GPR Motorsport so progress is on the up.
“But we can only do what we can do, and it’s already late and that is a lot of time to claw back. Unfortunately that’s the one thing we need, time.”
The task of recruiting a driver to partner Pinkney in the A4 is well underway, but Austin is determined to have someone in the car who does justice to what he says will prove to be a strong package.
“We know we need somebody quick and we can’t have any slouches in these things. We need someone who can really run at the sharp end and win races for us, because again I solidly believe that this car will be more than capable of winning races.
“We’re talking to some people; ideally we need them to bring some sponsorship with them. Failing that we have a bit of superstar lined-up, so we will definitely have someone quick in that car, if not at the first round at the second round.”
Whoever Pinkney’s teammate ultimately transpires to be, they will take on the number 13, an intentional decision by the team and one which Austin believes won’t put a hex on the outfit.
“We’re quite proud of that! As far as I’m aware it certainly hasn’t been used in the BTCC in recent history.
“As soon as Dan Mayo told me that, I was ‘Right we want it’. Dave Pinkney wanted 12 so we asked if 13 was free they were ‘Really? No ones ever wanted that number!’, and I said ‘Right I’m having it’.
“It’s all in the mind; it’s about positive mental attitude. If you think it is unlucky then more than likely it will be. I think it’s lucky.”
The last driver to run with the #13 in the BTCC was Alan Morrison in 2000 in his Class B VIP Touring Car Club Peugeot 306. The Northern Irishman won the Class B Championship that year, which Rob Austin will surely see as justification for his decision.