Fantastic weekend with pole and victory for Rob Huff in Shanghai
Huff help Volkswagen's manufacturers' challenge in CTCC
Rob Huff had a near-perfect weekend in his second, and final scheduled appearance in the China Touring Car Championship (CTCC) at the Shanghai International Circuit for the SAIC Volkswagen 333 Racing team, with the World Touring Car star taking pole, a win, and a second place at the weekend.
The British driver first put the team's Lamando GTS on pole position by 0.055 seconds ahead of Ford's own international wild card, former WTCR driver Pepe Oriola, which set things up for a good race on Sunday.
Unfortunately, there was still the matter of Saturday's randomised reversed grid race first, and as the pole-winner, Huff made the draw, in which he pulled out the #14 ball. A jokey placement of his thumb over the four didn't fool anybody, and Rob would start the first race from the near-back of the grid.
At the start, Huff made up a sensational eight places on the opening lap to move up to sixth, and carried on picking his way up the order until he came up to the fight between the leading trio on lap three.
The battle ahead between Jason Zhang's Kia, and the two Fords of Andy Yan and Rainey He ended in disaster, with the two Hong Kong-based team-mates colliding ahead of him on the final turn, with Zhang caught up in the fracas, with Huff popping through into the lead.
Unfortunately, Oriola was now closing in his Ford Focus, and under the championship's success ballast system, the Spaniard's car was 55kg lighter than Rob's, and was able to easily get past on the straight on lap five.
Rob held on to pick up key points in second place, and the team dug deep overnight to work on improvements to the car's straight-line speed.
Come Race 2 on Sunday, Oriola got the jump on Huff into Turn 1, but just three laps later Huff was now taking the fight back to the Ford driver in a much improved Lamando GTS. Huff started his attack at the hairpin, with the two drivers battling side-by-side through the final corner all the way back to Turn 1.
Huff came out in the lead, while Oriola ran off the road and soon developed a mechanical issue which meant he failed to finish the race.
Huff went on to win the race by over four seconds, finishing ahead of the Ford pair of Rainey He and Andy Yan, two drivers who have raced for Rob's Teamwork Huff Motorsport team in endurance races earlier this year.
The Shanghai outing concludes Huff's programme with the 333 Racing squad this year, as the rescheduled CTCC season finale now clashes with the final round of the WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup, which takes place at the Sepang International Circuit on December 13th-15th.
Rob Huff said:
"In Race 1, ahead of me there was just crashing everywhere. When the two Fords crashed, the front of my car was also slight damaged, but against Pepe (Oriola), we couldn't fight as our car's just too heavy - but the racing here is still great fun, to come from 14th to finish in P2 is a fantastic result.
"In the second race, I didn’t have a very good start, and Pepe got me, but our engineers had worked hard overnight and transformed the car, and I could see by about lap four Pepe was really struggling and he went long at the hairpin, and that allowed me to get the cut back and get past him, and after that I never saw him again.
"I want to say a huge congratulations to the team, as they've done a fantastic job with the car considering the weight we're carrying, and I'm over the moon with the results we've been able to achieve this weekend.
"Unfortunately, I was supposed to be doing the last race in Wuhan, but it now clashes with WTCR in Malasyia, so I wish the team the best of luck."
1 - Rob Huff - SAIC VW 333 Racing Volkswagen Lamando GTS - 2:16.068
2 - Pepe Oriola - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +0.055
3 - Jim Ka To - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +0.839
4 - Rodolfo Avila - SAIC VW 333 Racing Volkswagen Lamando GTS - +0.918
5 - Andy Yan - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +0.976
Race 1 result
1 - Pepe Oriola - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - 7 laps
2 - Rob Huff - SAIC VW 333 Racing Volkswagen Lamando GTS - +1.638
3 - Jason Zhang - Dongfeng Kia Racing Team Kia K3 2.0T - +4.999
4 - Leo Yi - Dongfeng Kia Racing Team Kia K3 2.0T - +6.659
5 - Rainey He - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +6.660
Race 2 result
1 - Rob Huff - SAIC VW 333 Racing Volkswagen Lamando GTS - 10 laps
2 - Rainey He - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +4.240
3 - Andy Yan - Changan Ford FRD Team Focus 2.0T - +7.548
4 - Zhang Zhen Dong - SAIC VW 333 Racing Volkswagen Lamando GTS - +11.251
5 - Alex Fontana - Dongfeng Kia Racing Team Kia K3 2.0T - +13.072