Huff philosphical as his run of success takes a dive 'down under'
An unfortunate mechanical failure on Rotek Racing’s Audi R8 LMS took the team out of the running at the four-hour mark of the 2014 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours at Australia’s legendary Mount Panorama circuit (7-9 February).
However, 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion, Rob Huff, reflects on his extraordinary achievements in some of world motorsport’s most prestigious endurance racing contests, after his run of success came to a disappointing end ‘down under’.
“An extraordinary run of success in endurance racing came to an end ‘down under’ in what was shaping up to be yet another lucrative race,” said Huff. “Three visits to the podium in quick succession – victory in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in California with a Rotek Racing Audi TTRS and two second places in the Dunlop Dubai 24 Hours and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona – really stirred my imagination and passion for endurance racing. Once you’ve tasted success like that, you only crave more!
“It was a pretty tricky start to the Bathurst 12 Hours weekend for the Rotek Racing team. Starting with a strong baseline configuration developed in 2013, we discovered that the circuit’s newly-laid asphalt was providing very little grip and we still had some work to do to perfect the setup.
"This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but one red-flag stoppage after another gave us very little time to optimise the Audi R8 LMS. I was really grateful to have somebody of Oliver Gavin’s calibre as a teammate at this point. While he had never driven the circuit before, he’s a pro and knows what he’s doing. Working together, we had a brilliant setup by the end of first practice!”
The 34-year old Briton from Newmarket, continued: “The plan for qualifying was for Oliver to set a benchmark time on Saturday morning and then for me to go out with sticky tyres in the second session. Gearbox troubles prevented me from setting a time, but Oli had already shown his class by recording a 2m07.990s; a time that was more than good enough to seal the Class B pole by over half a second! What a ripper, as they say out here in Aus!
“Oli was nominated to start the race and did a superb job, bringing the car up the order to not only lead the class, but the race outright on a couple of occasions.
"Richard Meins took the reins at the two-hour point, just as the race was interrupted by a huge crash on the mountain involving a front-running Ferrari 458 Italia and Nissan GT-R.
“Meins picked up the baton well, running solidly to maintain the initiative in class and extend Rotek's lead over the chasing pack. I think we had a lap on our nearest rival as the Safety Car was deployed in response to another heavy shunt involving a Class A Lamborghini.
“Unfortunately, this is when our car developed a misfire. Rotek Racing’s crew did everything they could to resolve the problem, running a series of system checks and restarts before identifying a damaged valve spring in the car’s V10.
"It was bitterly disappointing to have to call it a day, but that’s racing and you have to take the rough with the smooth in this sport. It was ours to lose in class, with nobody matching us for pace and consistency. In fact, the way the race was developing, we had a real shot at an overall podium finish. That, and the fact I had a lot of local support from TRW and Surge Gyms, makes the retirement even more difficult to take.”
Huff concluded: “Having said that, when I take everything into consideration, I have to be happy about how my foray in endurance racing has panned out. Having already proven my worth in touring cars by winning the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) title, I was eager to expand my horizons and demonstrate that I can be force in other forms of racing. I think I’ve succeeded in that sense and, while the WTCC remains at the top of my list of priorities, I hope my recent performances are only the start of something special.
"I'd really like to thank Rotek Racing for the opportunity of competing at Bathurst. They're a great bunch of guys who all work so hard and, while the win was out of reach this time, I know it'll be achievable next time around.”
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.