BTCC Fans’ Favourite Austin Takes ‘Sherman’ For A Spin On State-Of-The-Art Thruxton Skid Pan


March 3, 2014 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 7, 2015
  • BTCC race-winner Rob Austin tries out his Audi A4 racecar, a Porsche Cayman and a MINI Cooper on Britain’s best skid pan
  • Fans’ favourite waxes lyrical about ‘fun but safe way to learn basic car control under expert tuition’
  • 3,200 square-metre, low-grip skid pan puts stunt and precision-driving specialist’s skills to the ultimate test

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) race-winner and fans’ favourite Rob Austin gave a resounding thumbs-up to Thruxton Circuit’s state-of-the-art skid pan after taking his racecar ‘Sherman’, a Porsche Cayman and a MINI Cooper quite literally for a spin.

Ever the crowd-pleaser and doubtless inspired by the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Austin relished the ice-like challenge and couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off his legendary car control skills on the newest addition to Thruxton’s impressive Experience Centre.

With grip at an absolute premium, the 33-year-old performed a number of spectacular pirouettes in his Audi A4 BTCC car, before jumping over into the road-going Porsche and then the Experience Centre MINI Cooper, taking his Rob Austin Racing grid girl Sophie– the skid pan event co-ordinator – along for the ride.

“It was great fun, and everybody should have a go,” he enthused. “I genuinely couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! Most importantly, it’s a really fun but also very safe way to learn basic car control under expert tuition.”

Austin is well-accustomed to catching lurid slides from his moviework in recent BAFTA-winning blockbuster Rush, but drivers do not need any special experience to have a go on the Thruxton skid pan, which is the best low-grip facility of its kind at any UK race circuit.

Developed and built by Western Air Ltd late last year, it opened in January and has already proven a certified success story. With a rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT86 and the front-wheel-drive MINI Cooper as its two official training vehicles, the 3,200 square-metre polished concrete skid pan offers ample room to slide around in complete safety, being surrounded by a six-metre-wide strip of high-grip tarmac.

Environmentally-friendly water towers holding 50,000 litres feed 34 ground-level jets and generate a ‘water wall’ obstacle that can be turned on or off as required, highlighting the benefits of ABS and other electronic stability systems fitted to modern cars.

Manufacturers, car dealers, individuals and motoring clubs are all able to use the skid pan with their own vehicles, making it the ideal facility for media launches, driver training, corporate events and tests. It is overlooked by a brand new and well-equipped hospitality building boasting excellent views.