ROB Austin defied a first race crash to earn fifth place during round 27 of the British Touring Car Championship’s penultimate leg at Silverstone over the weekend.

The DUO Motorsport and HMS Racing driver was embroiled in a race-long battle at the front of the pack throughout the concluding race of the weekend, but he ultimately fell two places short of earning a second rostrum of 2018.

Having to settle for fifth position after starting the race from ninth, Austin now enters the competition’s final round at Brands Hatch with boosted confidence.

“I feel like we did a good job in qualifying to get things off to a decent start, we weren’t as high as we were expecting after practice so going forward we need to learn how to be a bit more aggressive with the set-up,” said Austin.

“We started to pick up some understeer as the track rubbered up.

“In the past we have tweaked the set-up too much, too little or gone the wrong way to compensate – as we are still learning the car – this time we hit the nail on the head and evolved the set-up just right for the circuit.

“Overall the team did a great job all weekend and credit for our strong performances goes to them.

“My job is easy when the car is hooked-up like that, so this step forward is all down to them and now we hope to be just as competitive at Brands Hatch.”

Results prior to Austin’s round 27 efforts, the Swindon racer made a strong start in the weekend’s opening race – round 25 – by moving into the top 12 from lights out.

But disaster struck when contact at Becketts with Mike Bushell forced Austin off the track and shut down his car’s electrics – meaning he re-joined the race a lap behind before eventually finishing 26th.

A post-race penalty meant Austin started round 26 from 24th on the grid – eventually climbing to 19th after a steady race with little drama.

Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent will host the final three races of the BTCC season over the weekend of September 29-30.