Huff has a happy ending with momentous win in Macau

17/11/13 Race Archive 2013

Huff has a happy ending with momentous win in Macau

Rob Huff completed his championship year on the top step of the podium, winning an abrasive final FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race on the streets of Macau (15-17 November).

The 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion is the most winning WTCC driver in Macau, having now scaled the top step of the podium on no fewer than six occasions in the former Portuguese dominion.

Huff – an official ambassador for OCC LASIK and Newmarket Racecourses – was masterful in threading his ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport SEAT Leon through Circuito da Guia’s narrow confines and duly lit up the timing screens during testing on Thursday.

The Briton laid down the gauntlet late in the session, clocking two consecutive fastest times and peaking at 2m32.147s to head the timesheets.

At the end of free practice the following day, Huff battled excessive oversteer in searing heat to go fifth quickest, as several red flag stoppages prevented drivers from settling into a rhythm.

There were many more unscheduled halts in qualifying too as the Guia circuit’s barriers continued to take no prisoners. However, Huff kept his nose clean to sail through to Q2, where a single run on a fresh set of Yokohama slicks was enough to propel him to fourth on the grid for the penultimate race of the 2013 season.

The city of Macau basked in warm sunshine as the grid formed for Round 23 on Sunday (17 November) and Huff was visibly chipper after going fastest in morning warm-up, reporting an improvement in the handling of his SEAT even on worn tyres.

With Gabriele Tarquini unable to partake in the race due to an lengthy engine change, Huff was promoted to third on the grid for the rolling start and proceeded to hustle the sole remaining works Castrol Honda of Tiago Monteiro.

Despite a valiant effort, the 33-year old from Newmarket became baulked behind Monteiro for the duration of the nine-lap race and crossed the finish line in third.

For his final race as World Champion – his last in ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport colours – Huff felt he had nothing to lose by taking a no holds barred approach from seventh on the grid.

A sensational launch from a standing start saw the outgoing Champion surge through Reservoir Bend in third position, just as a spectacular pile-up broke out in the mid-pack and left several cars strewn across the circuit.

The race was immediately suspended to allow the hard working Macau marshals to clear the wreckages, debris and spilt liquids and the grid to re-form in its original order.

However, racing was eventually resumed after a long delay and a single Safety Car lap. A well-timed lunge up the inside of Alex Macdowall as the field bunched into Lisboa on lap three saw Huff move up into fifth place, before Tom Chilton shuddered to a halt and another shrewd move on newly-crowned Yokohama Trophy winner James Nash promoted him to third position.

The top six ran nose-to-tail until the race was neutralised for a second time on lap six as another multi-car collision, where several local drivers carelessly ignored yellow flags and ploughed into slow-moving cars, blocked the track.

Another stunning start from behind the Safety Car saw Huff scamper past LADA Sport LUKOIL’s James Thompson and latch onto the rear of race leader Tom Coronel’s ROAL Motorsport BMW 320 TC on the fast approach to Lisboa.

A small biff with the barriers caused a brief moment of panic within the Munnich Motorsport camp, but Huff continued on his way to defeat Coronel with another supreme slingshot through Reservoir.

The brawling pair swapped some paint while under braking for Lisboa, but Huff maintained his focus and gapped the chasing pack during the closing stages of the 11-lap race to take a record sixth victory in Macau and climb to fourth in the final championship standings.

“It being such a stop-start race, it’s always tough but you kind of accept it as part of the racing here in Macau,” said Huff. “I think it’s where experience is helpful, as you have to learn to accept the situation and relax. I started seventh and finished first, but passed 13 people in total. Figure that out!

“There were some heart-in-the-mouth moments, but they guys I was battling with are all fair racers and we all have respect for this place. To end my season with ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport with a race win and a third place is just incredible and to get fourth in the standings is the perfect way to finish. I love this place and results like this give you confidence going into the winter. We truly deserved the win today.”

For more information on Rob Huff's racing activities, please visit the official website, 'like' his Facebook page or follow @Huffsport on Twitter.