Huff Boosts title Challenge in Austria
Victory at the Salzburgring
Rob Huff took the first ever FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) victory at Austria’s Salzburgring on 20 May 2012 as he claimed a giant haul of 48 points to close the gap on standings leader Yvan Muller.
From the moment the WTCC arrived at the circuit for the first time, Huff proved his quality by leading the charge, beginning with qualifying. He got his weekend off to the perfect start, taking pole position courtesy of a lap time of 1:26.791, comfortably beating his Chevrolet team-mate and title rival Muller by 0.142s to claim five championship points.
The Newmarket driver went from strength to strength as the race action began on Sunday, holding off Muller at the start of race one to stay at the front of the pack. Despite his team-mate having a slipstream advantage for the duration of the 14-lap race, 32-year-old Huff held off the Frenchman’s numerous challenges to take a lights-to-flag triumph: his second victory of the season.
Huff had little time to dwell on his success however, with race two starting immediately after the conclusion of the first. Huff began the reverse grid encounter in tenth, but wasted little time working his way through the field.
By the end of lap five Huff had already climbed up to second position, passing experienced racers such as former F1 stars Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro in the process. This put Huff behind Muller, who on the last lap suffered a puncture two corners from the chequered flag.
Unfortunately, the same fate befell Huff on the final turn. While Italy’s Stefano D’Aste passed him for victory, Huff held off a challenge from Tom Coronel to claim second while managing his puncture. As a result, Huff secured another 18 valuable championship points.
“Of all my WTCC wins, the victory this weekend was probably the hardest, as I spent so much time looking at my mirrors,” said a delighted Huff. “Yvan had a massive advantage on me due to slipstreaming, but I had no plans to relinquish my lead and managed to hold on.”
Huff’s excellent weekend has put him firmly in the hunt for the world title: he now sits just eight points behind Muller at the top of the points table after reducing his lead by 22 points in Salzburg. The series next visits the Algarve, Portugal, on 3 June 2012.
Round 11 Result (top five)
1. Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T), 23:26.809
2. Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T), +0.312
3. Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T), +0.739
4. Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT León WTCC), +2.919
5. Tiago Monteiro (SR León 1.6T), +3.483
Round 12 Result (top five)
1. Stefano D’Aste (BMW 320 TC), 17:58.529
2. Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T), +0.377
3. Tom Coronel (BMW 320 TC), +0.494
4. Pepe Oriola (SEAT León WTCC), +4.103
5. Norbert Michelisz (BMW 320 TC), +4.929
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship – Drivers’ Championship (top five)
1. Yvan Muller (FRA), 206 points
2. Rob Huff (GBR), 198 points
3. Alain Menu (SUI), 175 points
4. Tom Coronel (NED), 116 points
5. Gabriele Tarquini (ITA), 111 points
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship – Manufacturers’ Championship
1. Chevrolet, 495 points
2. BMW Customer Racing Teams, 338 points
3. SEAT Customer Technology, 313 points