ROB Austin and Handy Motorsport made a sparkling return to form at Silverstone over the weekend, with the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship front-runners celebrating a brace of top five finishes and very nearly a podium for the Swindon squad.

With a realistic chance of silverware in the second and third races on Sunday, Austin ultimately had to ultimately settle for fifth place on each occasion to add to the ninth place achieved in the opening contest, where he ran the less favourable hard compound ‘option’ tyres.

Pace-wise, the Toyota Avensis was strong straight out of the box and after preparing well in free practice, Austin was only prevented from having a genuine shot at the front row of the grid in qualifying after being badly baulked on his quickest lap.

Nonetheless, sixth on the grid was a good return and set the scene for a stellar weekend – one in which he felt a race win was a possibility.

“Off the back of what we’ve had recently, I’m happy to come away from Silverstone with two P5 finishes – but race three was mine, in my head the win was there,” said Austin.

“It should have been more than P5, we’d taken the pain of the hard tyres in race one, race two was OK and the only threat I saw for race three was Colin Turkington jumping me, but I made an awesome start.

“I’m probably feeling more negative than I should be, so I apologise if I am being too negative but I know we had a great chance.

“When the win is there for the taking and you have that opportunity, you want it and nothing less. I’m here to win, the team is here to win, and race three was a chance.

“It’s taken us a couple of events to resolve the issues we had with the car, but this weekend showed how competitive our package is.

“My engineer gave me a great balance and we’ve come away with some good results and a lot of points.

“Yes, I wanted more from the weekend and I know we were capable of more, but it’s still been a very strong performance.”

The BTCC season reaches its conclusion in a fortnight’s time, with the final event of the year staged over the weekend of September 30 to October 1 at Brands Hatch in Kent.