Race Archive 2013
Huff gains ground in WTCC standings after momentous Shanghai weekend
Rob Huff propelled himself back up to sixth in the overall FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) standings with sixth and fourth place finishes in Rounds 21 and 22 at the Shanghai International Circuit (2-3 November).
On Sunday it was announced that Huff – an official ambassador for OCC LASIK and Newmarket Racecourses – will join LADA Sport LUKOIL's WTCC ranks in 2014 as part of a three-car assault on the world's premier touring car championship alongside compatriot and double British Touring Car Champion, James Thompson, and Russian youngster Mikhail Kozlovskiy.
Fog blanketed the Shanghai circuit during free practice one on Saturday morning and Huff emerged from the gloom in 11th, having clocked a 1m56.636s.
The 2012 WTCC Champion improved to ninth by going approximately three tenths quicker in the day’s second practice session, before qualifying his ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport SEAT Leon eighth for the first race.
Rain showers saturated the Shanghai International Circuit as the grid formed for Round 21 on Sunday, creating a great deal of uncertainty among teams and drivers with regards to tyre selection.
With some opting for slick tyres and others Yokohama’s grooved rubber, the 26,000-strong Chinese crowd were on the edge of their seats waiting to discover who would be the big winners and losers.
The field started the race – shortened from 13 to ten laps by the stewards for safety reasons – behind the Safety Car.
As the rain began to subside, the drivers were unleashed into a plume of spray on lap three, the rapidly drying track surface suggesting those who gambled on slick tyres had made the correct call.
A storming drive from 2012 World Champion Huff that encompassed tense battles with Bamboo Engineering’s Alex MacDowall and works Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini resulted in eight points for sixth place.
From third on the grid in Round 22, Huff emerged from the long right-hander at Turn 1 behind Norbert Michelisz in fourth.
The Zengo Motorsport Honda driver resisted immense pressure from a hard-charging Huff in the battle for third place, Huffy surviving a late collision with Yvan Muller on lap ten to maintain fourth position.
“It has been a fantastic weekend in Shanghai and it's quite a relief to re-take sixth in the championship standings with a couple of solid finishes,” said Huff. “Tyre selection was a complete gamble in Round 21 and the changeable conditions made the going tough, but I was delighted to finish sixth and then back that up with fourth place in Round 22. Having started third, it was a shame not to achieve another podium for my ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport team but Norbert (Michelisz) defended admirably.
“However, the weekend was particularly special for another reason. I’ve been working hard to return to a manufacturer seat and it was great to finally announce my plans for the 2014 season. I’m excited about helping LADA develop into a race-winning team. It has a hunger to win – I developed two cars for Chevrolet and I hope to utilise those experiences to push LADA forwards. What’s important is that they understand what is fundamentally holding them back. I believe we can do great things together.”
The final two races of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) – Rounds 23 and 24 – will be held on the streets of Macau in a fortnight’s time (15-17 November).
For more information on LADA Sport LUKOIL, visit the official wtcc.lada.ru website, ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page or follow @LadaSportFollow on Twitter.
And for more on Rob Huff's racing activities, please visit the official www.robhuff.com website, 'like' his Facebook page or follow @Huffsport on Twitter.