Austin predicts crazy qualifying at Knockhill

On pole position 12 months ago at Knockhill, Rob Austin believes the Fife circuit’s qualifying session for this Sunday’s three British Touring Car races will be “the craziest of all time” with 30-plus drivers all hunting a clear flying lap around the venue’s rollercoaster-like track lay-out.

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Both Rob’s Exocet Racing Audi and the sister car of team-mate Hunter Abbott are currently undergoing final preparation work in the squad’s workshops in Pershore, Worcestershire. They will leave in the team’s transporters this Wednesday morning for the 300-mile trip to Knockhill, just north of Edinburgh.

Evesham-based Rob’s pole time there last year of 52.471 seconds set a new qualifying record for touring cars around Knockhill but he says there is no guarantee of even being on the first five rows of the grid come Sunday’s first race.

“The intensity and level of competition has moved on since last August which makes it tough enough to break into the top ten as it is and then there is the insane prospect of what lies in store in qualifying on Saturday afternoon. This is going to be the craziest qualifying session of all time,” he commented.

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Rob Austin took pole at Knockhill last season Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“Half a second was the difference between pole and 15th on the grid last year. I predict it will be even less this time around while I also expect another two tenths of a second to be knocked off that pole time at least.

“Sure we had a fairly problem-free qualifying session for the opening round at Brands Hatch Indy (an even shorter lap) at the start of the season but Knockhill is very different – there are far more blind brows and it is much easier to trip up over a slower car or for drivers not on a hot one to not spot people coming up fast in their mirrors.

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Will Rob be spraying the champagne at Knockhill again this year? Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“With the title race coming to a bit of a critical point as well I’d imagine there will be some very angry drivers on Saturday evening. I hope I’m not one of them and that our strategy will work out like in 2013.

“One thing is guaranteed: it is going to make for an incredible spectacle for the fans trackside or those watching the live coverage on ITV.com.”