EVESHAM ace Rob Austin's 2019 race prospects are up in the air.

After five years in the British Touring Car Championship, the driver's team HMS Racing will sit out the coming season but plan to make a swift return for 2020.

They were unable to commit to the competition in time for the BTCC registration deadline on November 30.

Swindon-based HMS Racing introduced their podium-finishing Alfa Romeo Giulietta this year.

“We are beyond disappointed HMS Racing will not be on the grid in the BTCC next year after five years of continual progression,” said team principal Simon Belcher.

“Very unfortunately we have had hurdles placed in front of us which we simply can’t overcome in the timeframe required to meet the registration deadline.

“Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to overcome this setback to our long-term BTCC plans and have every intention to return for 2020.”

Austin, 37, joined the team in 2016 with two Independents Trophy wins and several outright podiums.

The following year he took their first BTCC race victory during the season finale at Brands Hatch.

Austin said: “This is heart-breaking news. We worked so hard to bring the Alfa Romeo to the BTCC grid and have worked through the tough period of development that’s required with a new car.

"We felt we were making progress and with a solid winter testing programme believe we could have enjoyed a strong 2019.

“For all that work not to reach fruition seems unjust. As a team we did all we could and working with Simon and the team these last three years has been an absolute pleasure.

"I would like to thank them all for their hard work and support.

"It’s quite late in the day so I’m not sure what 2019 holds for me as a driver but I certainly hope I can be a part of the future return of HMS and finish the work we started with the Alfa Romeo.”