Huff adds Daytona LMPC podium to impressive endurance racing CV
Rob Huff added yet another stunning result to his endurance racing résumé, finishing second in LMPC and tenth overall in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona as part of 8Star Motorsports' stellar driver line-up (23-26 January).
Huff made a late switch to the 8Star Motorsports fold for the 52nd running of the legendary Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona following a problematic outing in the preceding "Roar" test earlier in the month.
The OCC LASIK-backed racer from Newmarket joined fellow Briton and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kimber-Smith, 8Star team owner Enzo Potolicchio and talented gentleman driver Michael Marsal in the Florida-based outfit's ORECA FLM09 LMPC prototype.
While Huff's Daytona debut began on a positive note, the 8Star team was struck down by gearbox issues in free practice and subsequently failed to take part in Thursday's (23 January) qualifying session.
The team's woes were then compounded when, after just two laps in Friday morning's one-hour practice session, a collision involving Potolicchio sidelined the car and provided the team with a great deal of work to complete during the countdown to the race.
However, after perhaps the most troubled build-up of any team to the legendary 24-hour contest at Daytona International Speedway, the striking 8Star Motorsports ORECA took its place on the Daytona starting grid.
Kimber-Smith took the green flag and propelled the team to fourth on the LMPC leaderboard with an impeccable opening stint, before handing the reins to Marsal.
With three hours completed, the Rolex 24 at Daytona was halted following a horrifying incident involving the Gainsco-backed Corvette DP prototype driven by Memo Gidley and the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia GTD of Matteo Malucelli.
Both drivers were trapped in their respective cars and the severe nature of the incident necessitated the first red-flag stoppage in the 24 Hours of Daytona for a decade.
The race was neutralised for an hour while Gidley and Malucelli were carefully removed from the wreckages, before being transferred to a nearby hospital to begin protracted recoveries.
Huff – the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion – completed his first stint just after nightfall, when 8Star Motorsports emerged as CORE Autosports' main challenger for LMPC class honours.
The battle for the lead enraged throughout the 13 hours of darkness, 8Star and CORE trading places while running unsynchronised strategies.
Huffy triple-stinted midway through the night, the combined efforts of all four drivers keeping the ambitious team in contention as daylight returned, despite being involved in a collision with an Aston Martin from the GTD class and suffering a small exhaust fire on pit road.
Ultimately, misaligned steering prevented 8Star Motorsports from mounting a realistic challenge for the victory.
The final two stints for Huff and Kimber-Smith were blighted by the steering issues, but a valiant effort from the entire team resulted in it celebrating a well-deserved second place finish in the LMPC rankings and tenth in the overall classification.
"It was such a relief when the car made the finish, because it was looking uncertain in the closing stages," said Huff. "It has been a long and dramatic weekend, but the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona really is a phenomenal event and I feel truly honoured to have been part of it, especially coming away with such an incredible second place finish.
"I have to commend the 8Star Motorsports team on this result and for being such a quality outfit. The levels of preparation and organisation, plus the talent within this team is unbelievable and that has made this whole experience a pleasure from start to finish. With all of those elements, 8Star is set for big things!"
For more information on Rob Huff's racing activities, please visit the official www.robhuff.com website, 'like' his Facebook page or follow @HuffSport on Twitter.