Reigning Champion Huff has modest ambitions for Austrian WTCC assault

17/05/13 Race Preview

Reigning Champion Huff has modest ambitions for Austrian WTCC assault

After a sensational weekend in Hungary, reigning Champion Rob Huff heads into Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship at Austria’s Salzburgring (18-19 May) with relatively modest expectations.

Located 15km east of the historic city of Salzburg – the birthplace of legendary composer and musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the superfast Salzburgring is famed for being nestled inside a narrow alpine valley.

Its fast, flowing confines push man and machinery to the limit, which was demonstrated on the WTCC’s maiden visit to the track in 2012.

Huff translated pole position into a win in the first race, but a combination of high temperatures and the circuit’s long straights took its toll on the Yokohama tyres.

There were no fewer than 12 punctures in the day’s second race, with the Chevrolet trio of Alain Menu, Yvan Muller and Huff dropping out in quick succession on the final lap to gift an unsuspecting Stefano D’Aste the race victory.

Having delivered his maiden win of the 2013 season at Budapest’s Hungaroring two weeks ago, Huff hopes to carry that momentum through to Austria in a bid to bolster his title defence campaign.

The victory – his first as the reigning WTCC Champion and his first in a SEAT car – was most notable for the fact that it was the first for his ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport team since stepping over from the FIA GT1 World Championship to the pinnacle of international touring car racing.

The Newmarket-based racer subsequently propelled himself to third in the overall Drivers’ standings behind former team-mate Muller and Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, but has his sights set on points finishes in the belief that the Salzburgring won’t play to the strengths of his ALL-INKL.COM-backed SEAT Leon.

“We have come from one of the strongest circuits for my SEAT Leon to by far the most challenging,” said Huff. “Managing the tyres is a fine balancing act at the Salzburgring and will make the races a bit of a lottery – It’s all about pushing the boundaries with cambers and tyre pressures.

“Aerodynamic efficiency is also essential, as you spend a lot of time in sixth gear; qualifying will be a slipstreaming contest and I think we can get into Q2 if we get a decent tow.”

He added: “However, the Chevrolets were strong at Monza earlier this year and that will be exaggerated at the Salzburgring, which has similar characteristics. With five Chevys and three Hondas on the grid this year, we’ll certainly have our work cut out to get near the sharp end, but I’m keen to emulate the success we had in Hungary, because I enjoy that winning feeling.”

Eurosport will show a re-run of qualifying from the Salzburgring at 7.30 on Sunday 19 May, with the morning warm-up live from 7.45 and the two races later that same day from 16.00 and 17.00 respectively. 

For more information on Rob Huff, please like his Facebook page, or follow @Huffsport on Twitter.