Race Archive 2015
Huff rolls a double six in WTCC Race of Thailand
I have been on the world stage of motorsport for over ten years now and I’ve had the privilege of travelling the world and plying my trade at some great venues, so I thought the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s (WTCC) Race of Thailand (31 October-1 November) was a fantastic addition to a calendar that gets more exotic every year.
Another Asian race gave me the opportunity to combine work with pleasure and I travelled to Thailand early for some warm weather training, to work on my fitness and sun tan at the same time.
Travelling early also provided an opportunity to fully acclimatise to the time zone and humidity ahead of the race at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, a new track some six hours by road from Bangkok, bringing motorsport to an entirely new audience.
Before the racing got going Eurosport arranged a soccer match between the WTCC and Buriram United. It was my first run out in a while – 15 years to be precise – but the silky Huffy skills in the beautiful game had not deserted me, as I scored my first goal on the way to a 2–2 draw. All involved had a lot of fun, even if it was a bloody hot evening to be running around!
Off the pitch and on the track, me and the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team had a weekend of mixed fortunes, to say the least.
The car was okay; it suited the track reasonably well and it was definitely as competitive as it has been all season.
In qualifying I rolled the dice and gambled on a tenth position for the reversed grid pole, and everything was looking good until the final moments when Norby Michelisz pipped me, resigning me to the dreaded 11th spot.
However, that would be irrelevant when we were relegated to the back of the grid for both races for having glass 0.2mm too thin! Clearly that makes all the difference, but rules are rules and I took up the challenge of making up places in the races.
Race 1 was memorable for a number of reasons, not all of them good, as my teammates wiped each other out at Turn 1 when Tom Coronel “encouraged” Nicolas (Lapierre) to T-bone Nicky (Catsburg), causing a lot of damage to both cars and sidelining them for the remainder of the weekend. It was a long way to go for a few hundred yards of racing.
But their loss was my gain, as shunts pulled me up the field and into the mix. The car was working well in race-spec and I made my overtake of the season, timing a move on Tiago Monteiro to perfection and sliding up the inside of his Honda with the width of a piece of glass (around 0.2mm) to pass him. I eventually came home in sixth for decent points and some reward for the team.
The second race was another WTCC first, - a twilight race, which bizarrely ended early due to fading light! Errr, guys, isn’t that what twilight is?
I enjoyed the challenge and made quick progress through the field, having an epic battle with Gabriele Tarquini and Mehdi Bennani for much of the race and using all my experience to defend and attack in equal measure.
I had a mistake-free run to collect places as those around me made errors. The timing of the red flag didn’t do me any favours, though, as I made it up to sixth (which would become fifth when Monteiro was later excluded) on the road, having passed Tom Chilton, reaping the rewards of patience, consistency and racecraft.
So a double six ahead of my next outing, which will be in Macau in four weeks’ time in unfamiliar TCR machinery on the very familiar Circuito da Guia.
Naturally, I will be looking to add to my wins tally before finishing the WTCC season at another new venue in Qatar a week later. Hopefully we will have a fitting end to an enjoyable season.