Rob Austin is a British racing driver who was a regular competitor in the British Touring Car Championship between 2011 and 2018, earning an honor of the fans' favourite driver. In eight BTCC seasons, Austin scored three wins and eighteen podiums.
Earlier in a career, that started in 2000, Rob Austin raced in Formula 3, Seat Cupra Championship, British GT Championship and different Ginetta one-make competitions.
BTCC fans' favourite Rob Austin
British Formula Renault vice-champion early in a career
Born in February 1981 in Evesham, Robert Christopher Austin started his racing career in karting competitions at the age of 10. After a few successful seasons in karting, Rob switched to formula competitions in 1997, making a debut in the British Formula Renault in 1998.
He was close to the top in 1999, finishing second in the British Formula Renault, losing a title to Antonio Pizzonia. He was driving for Manor Motorsport, winning one race.
Four seasons in the British Formula 3
Rob spent almost the entire 2000 out of racing recovering from serious injuries he sustained in a road accident. He made two starts in the British Formula 3 and then returned to full-time racing in the 2001 British F3 Championship, joining Alain Menu's team.
His first season in Formula 3 wasn't good, he then scored one podium in 2002 and finally his first victory in 2003. He was second in the championship but missed few rounds due to a broken hand whilst rugby training and it ended his championship hopes.
In 2003, he even made few starts in the Japanese Formula 3. His last season in the national F3 championship as 2004. Then, in 2005, he made just a couple of appearances in the Formula 3 Euro Series, leaving single-seaters at the end of the season.
Changing a direction with his own racing team
While he was still in Formula 3, Rob founded his own racing team Rob Austin Racing (RAR). The team's first competition was the Ginetta Championship in 2006.
Next year, the RAR was running six Ginetta G20 cars for customers and for Rob himself. He also raced in the Seat Cupra Championship.
In 2008, Rob Austin was driving the #55 Ginetta G50 in the British GT Championship
British GT4 vice-champion in 2008
In 2008, the Ginetta G50 was introduced and Rob's team was running several cars in the Ginetta G50 Cup and one car in the GT4 class of the British GT Championship.
Rob Austin and his partner Hunter Abbott recovered from a heavy crash in the season-opening round at Oulton Park, and scoring ten podiums until the end of the season, including three wins, to finish second in the championship.
In the following years, Rob Austin Racing was running Ginettas but also some old F1 cars in the Grand Prix Masters competition, changing a direction again in 2011 when the team entered the British Touring Car Championship.
BTCC debut for Rob Austin and Sherman in 2011
Rob Austin Racing entered BTCC in 2011, the first season of the NGTC regulations. The team was running own-built rear-wheel-drive Audi A4 for David Pinkney in the first round at Brands Hatch but Pinkney then left the team and Rob himself took the driving duties. He was driving the #13 Audi A4, which he named the Sherman.
Rob scored his maiden BTCC podium in the eighth round at Rockingham, finishing second in the third race. For the last two rounds, the team added one more car to its garage, with Chris Swanwick driving it.
In 2012, Rob Austin added one more BTCC podium to his account, finishing third at Croft. At the end of the season, he was 13th in the overall classification and 11th among independent drivers.
Rob Austin in his famous Audi A4 Sherman
Two BTCC victories for Rob Austin in an Audi
In 2013, his third season at the wheel of the Sherman, sponsored by WIX Racing, Rob Austin reached his first pole position in the seventh round at Knockhill and then scored his maiden BTCC victory by winning the second race at Rockingham Motor Speedway. At the end of the season, he was eleventh in the overall standings.
In 2014, Austin was driving the #101 Exocet Audi A4 and scored his second BTCC victory. He was again victorious at Rockingham, winning the third race of the day. He ended the championship 12th in the points. In 2015, Austin's Audi wasn't competitive anymore and he ended a season without wins or podiums, finishing 14th in the points.
Rob Austin was driving Toyota Avensis in 2016 and 2017
Establishing a partnership with Handy Motorsport
For the 2016 BTCC season, Rob Austin established a partnership with Simon Belcher and joined Belcher's Handy Motorsport to drive the #11 Toyota Avensis. In his first season with the new car, Austin took three overall podiums and two independent wins to finish 16th in the overall standings and 6th among independent drivers.
In 2017, Rob stayed in the #11 Toyota Avensis and improved his results. He was on a pole at Donington Park and scored his third overall BTCC win in a career by winning the last race of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. He was 11th in the final standings of the championship and the fifth among independents.
In eight BTCC seasons, Rob Austin raced with three manufacturers: Audi, Toyota and Alfa Romeo
Switching to Alfa Romeo Giulietta in 2018, leaving BTCC in 2019
For the 2018 BTCC season, HMS Racing and Rob Austin changed a car, switching to Alfa Romeo Giulietta. At the wheel of the #11 Alfa Romeo, Austin scored one independent victory and two overall podiums to finish 14th in the championship and seventh among independent drivers.
In 2019, Rob Austin will not return to the BTCC. He will mentor Alex Day who will drive Audi A4 'Sherman' for HMS Racing in the inaugural season of the newly created Touring Car Trophy.
In eight BTCC seasons, Rob Austin was on a podium ten times