ROB Austin propelled Handy Motorsport into the illustrious list of British Touring Car Championship race-winning teams at Brands Hatch on Sunday with a dominant performance in the final race of the 2017 season.

In the Swindon squad’s final championship race with its trusty Toyota Avensis, Austin delivered a faultless drive in tricky wet conditions and stormed to a three-second winning margin in round 30, dedicating the victory to his late grandmother who passed away last month.

“I made some silly mistakes in race one and two, I wasn’t having it in that one,” Austin said.

“I lost my gran when we were at Silverstone, she was my biggest fan, and in race three there it (a win) was on the cards. It got taken away from us, so this is for her.”

Ahead of the season-ending round 30, the arrival of rain – which had been a factor all weekend – left drivers and teams with a quandary over what to do with tyre choice.

Austin initially wanted to run with slick tyres but the final decision from his engineer was to change to wet-weather Dunlops on the grid.

Lining up second on the partially-reversed grid, after a draw made by motorsport commentating legend Murray Walker, Austin made an excellent launch to get alongside pole-starter Michael Epps before making a terrific pass for the lead into Surtees.

Opening a one-second advantage, Austin maintained the gap on lap two before the safety car was deployed in time for the start of the fourth tour.

The action resumed on lap six and Austin made a good getaway, pulling 0.9 seconds clear over the first tour back at racing speed. Doubling his advantage over Epps to 1.8 seconds by the start of lap eight, Austin controlled the race beautifully.

Austin was 3.6 seconds to the good over new second-placed driver Jack Goff in lap 10 and then set the fastest lap of the race to edge further clear.

By lap 14 his cushion stood at 4.8 seconds and, as rain started to fall again, Austin managed the gap before taking the flag 3.1 seconds ahead.

“It’s easy when you’ve got the car under you, the team did a fantastic job and gave me a great race car,” added Austin, who finished ninth in both rounds 28 and 29.

“The job everyone has done this year deserved more silverware than we’ve had, but that’s been down to circumstances and just bad luck.”

Handy team principal Simon Belcher was delighted to finally get a victory after starting the team four years ago.

“We’ve had pole position, seconds, thirds and Independents wins – the only bit that was missing was the first overall win and now we’ve done it,” Belcher said.

Austin finished 11th overall in the standings, with Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal, of Swindon’s Honda works team fourth and seventh.