Macau master Rob Huff takes a record-breaking ninth victory at the Guia Race of Macau
Macau, China - 19/11/17
Race 1: 7TH
Race 2: 1ST
Rob Huff had a “rollercoaster” of a weekend at the latest round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the Macau Grand Prix, breaking records throughout the weekend in his ALL-INKL Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée, though a typical crash at the famous circuit in the opening race on Saturday meant it looked like Huff wouldn’t even be able to make the start of the showcase event on Sunday.
Things started perfectly, with good pace in practice before Huff turned up the wick in qualifying on Friday. The Briton dominated the one-lap qualifying shootout to smash three-time champion José María López’s record from 2014, taking pole position with a time of 2:23.995 – the first and only sub-2:24 lap for a front-wheel drive car around the Chinese circuit.
In the reversed grid first race, Huff started from ninth and was one of the few drivers to make any progress in the race, making his way up to seventh and setting a new race lap record, beating his own record from 2014 by six-tenths of a second with a time of 2:26.469.
However, there was disaster with two laps to go when fifth-placed Norbert Michelisz crashed his Honda right in front of Huff at the Police bend, with the following three cars unable to avoid the Hungarian and piled into him. All cars suffered significant damage and it wasn’t clear whether they would be repairable for the next day’s Main Race.
It seemed the weekend was over for Huff, but the privateer German team worked all night to repair the C-Elysée WTCC, with the car firing up in the early hours of the morning and was ready to race.
There was still more drama to come, as rain then hit the street circuit in the morning, meaning a wet race for one of the most challenging events in motorsport.
Huff made the most of his pole, and held off an early challenge from Michelisz’s Honda on the first lap, before pulling out an eight second lead to win the race, his ninth at Macau, and more than any other driver or rider has accomplished at the daunting track in the circuit’s 64-year history.
Rob Huff said:
“What a weekend! I’m absolutely over the moon.
“It started perfectly on Friday when we broke the lap record in Qualifying 3, and that might never be broken as it’s the last time these TC1 cars will come here, so I’m very happy to have got down to the 2:23s in a front-wheel drive touring car.
“But then there was complete devastation when I got wiped out in that accident.
“It was nothing to do with me whatsoever, I was just completely unlucky along with Esteban (Guerrieri) and Tom (Chilton).
“Of course, I have to give huge praise to the team; the boys did the most amazing job working all night until 4 o’clock this morning, I got a video sent through on my phone of the engine firing up, and from that point I just didn’t sleep as I was too excited to get down here and get started and try my hardest to win the race.
“The guys did an amazing job all weekend, the car just got faster and faster and I’ve only ever seen top level works teams repair the car the way they have. These guys just pulled it out of the bag for me, and it’s a great feeling to reward them with a win.
“To get nine wins at one circuit is pretty amazing, to get nine wins at Macau of all places is very special, and I owe it all to the team.
“It’s been an amazing weekend, and a typical Macau rollercoaster, up on Friday and then on Saturday we didn’t even if we know we’d make the race on Sunday, and then to win today is just a monumental result, so a huge thanks and praise to everyone involved, to René (Münnich) and the boys in the team.”
WTCC Guia Race of Macau Qualifying
1. Rob Huff – Citroën – 2:23.995
2. Norbert Michelisz – Honda – +0.306
3. Tom Chilton – Citroën – +0.849
4. Thed Björk – Volvo – +1.151
5. Esteban Guerrieri – Honda – +1.245
WTCC Guia Race of Macau Main Race
1. Rob Huff – Citroën – 13 Laps
2. Norbert Michelisz – Honda – +8.142
3. Tom Chilton – Citroën – +8.684
4. Esteban Guerrieri – Honda – +9.228
5. Thed Björk – Volvo – +21.237
6. Tom Coronel – Chevrolet – +25.818
7. Mehdi Bennani – Citroën – +28.693
8. Kevin Gleason – Lada – +31.583
9. Néstor Girolami – Volvo – +34.326
10. Zsolt Szabo – Honda – +41.598
WTCC Guia Race of Macau Opening Race
1. Mehdi Bennani – Citroën – 5 Laps
2. Tom Coronel – Chevrolet – +1.952
3. Ryo Michigami – Honda – +3.265
4. Thed Björk – Volvo – +3.627
5. Norbert Michelisz – Honda – +4.577
6. Esteban Guerrieri – Honda – +5.379
7. Rob Huff – Citroën – +6.635
8. Tom Chilton – Citroën – +8.068
9. Nicky Catsburg – Volvo – +10.688
10. Kevin Gleason – Lada – +12.040