Rob Austin says he is excited to get back on track at Brands Hatch this weekend, despite managing his expectations heading into the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Returning to the scene of HMS Racing’s maiden victory in the 2017 series finale, Austin arrives at the Kent venue with the brand new Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

In what has been a busy few months for the Independent squad as they have built and tested their new front-wheel-drive machine, the three-time race winner believes he is better prepared than he ever has been before ahead of a new season.

“I’m very excited to get back to racing after a long off season,” said Austin. “The boys have produced a simply stunning car, built to the highest standard I have witnessed on the BTCC grid, and its already proven it has huge potential by topping the times at Media Day, in spite of only having a couple of days running prior to that.

“But it’s not just the car, I am fitter and better prepared than ever before and as a team we have upped our game in virtually every aspect. Our new VIP hospitality suite is a shining example of the exceptionally high standards we are working towards at every level of the team. It’s a very exciting time for us and this is only part-way through our long-term game plan.”

Despite topping the times at the official Media Day at Donington Park late last month, Austin is clear that nobody on the grid knows where they stack up against each other until the action gets underway.

Austin added: “So, while we are going to Brands with aspirations of winning everything, as every single team and driver is, or else why would we bother, we have to be realistic and right now we really don’t have a clue how we will fare against the competition at the weekend. The fact is our car is brand new, only three days old, and although it clearly has huge potential it’s still very raw.

“Brands is a very different circuit to Donington and demands different things from the car to be quick. If we can’t hook it up, no matter how much potential it has, it’s not going to produce the lap times. So, we are managing our expectations until we get on track and see what our starting point is like.

“Obviously, I’m really hoping it’s enough as I would love nothing more than to start this season as we finished the last and reward the team’s incredible efforts in building this stunning new Alfa Romeo.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography