Huff on Moscow mission to bounce back from Austrian austerity with points finishes
The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) returns to Russia this weekend (7-8 June) and former Champion Rob Huff is on a Moscow mission to bounce back from austere times in Austria on his LADA Sport LUKOIL team’s home ground.
In another giant-killing performance, Huff achieved a podium finish on the WTCC’s maiden visit to Russian soil in 2013, adapting well to the demands of the ultra-modern Moscow Raceway.
Russia’s first purpose-built racetrack was penned by leading designer Hermann Tilke and its 3.93km technical layout carves its way through picturesque forestland in the Volokolamsky District of Moscow, approximately 80km North-West of the nation’s capital.
Moscow Raceway hosts the WTCC for only the second time and its first visit was characterised by a nail-biting five-way fight for third position in the weekend’s second race, involving Huff, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini, Tom Coronel and James Thompson.
The quintet ran in close quarters until contact eliminated the last three and the circuit’s profoundly low-grip, high-friction asphalt is sure to create more titanic tussles this time around.
While teams and drivers have prior knowledge and experience of the circuit, the slate may have been wiped clean by the introduction of the WTCC’s new TC1 technical regulations and optimising setups could present a challenge.
Huff is excited ahead of his Moscow mission on LADA Sport LUKOIL’s home turf, despite knowing the LADA Granta Sport TC1 is yet to receive upgrades and its aerodynamic and straight-line speed deficiencies remain.
However, the former World Champion doesn’t expect to be at as much of a disadvantage when in hand-to-hand combat with the more potent Citroens, Chevrolets and Hondas and says strong points finishes are achievable.
“I’m very excited about arriving in Russia, as it’s always nice to be representing a ‘local brand’ and I think last year’s round at Moscow Raceway produced some of the most interesting racing of the season,” said Huff. “It’s a complex circuit, it’s very slippery to the point where it feels like you’re driving in the rain and it has a high-friction surface that punishes tyres. That combination creates a tricky situation for teams and makes for entertaining races and, as LADA Sport LUKOIL has achieved its strongest results in difficult conditions, I hope to reward the home support with some strong finishes this weekend.
“I don’t think you can appreciate how much passion there is for LADA without visiting Russia. It’s a very patriotic country and LADA represents that, so I’m excited to see what sort of welcome we get. The team has done a terrific job to get both mine and James’s car ready and fixed in time after our Salzburgring smash. There was only three days to repair the extensive damage to both cars so it’s a testament to the team’s professionalism and determination that we’re able to compete at Moscow.”
Eurosport will broadcast live coverage of FIA World Touring Car Championship qualifying on Saturday (7 June) from 12.30 CET (BST +2 hours), while Rounds 11 and 12 will be aired on from 11.00 CET on Sunday (8 June).
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.