Rob Huff ecstatic after heroic return to the BTCC at Silverstone
Rob Huff was humbled after the fans’ response to his return to the British Touring Car Championship this weekend at Silverstone, where he secured the Power Maxed Racing team their best result with second in the final race, leading for the majority and having a titanic battle with three-time champion Matt Neal.
Huff was deputising for his World Touring Car Championship friend and also rival Tom Chilton at the young BTCC squad, which has built their own car with factory support from Vauxhall this year, the new Astra.
The Cambridge-based driver qualified 28th in the 32-car strong field, carrying an extra penalty of 45kg of ballast this weekend as a substitute driver.
In Race 1, Huff drove through to 16th, and was well-placed for Race 2, where he worked his way well into the points-paying positions with an eighth-place finish, and when the random draw called for the top nine to be reversed, the 2012 WTCC drivers’ champion found himself on the front row for the final race of the day on his first race weekend in the BTCC since 2004.
Huff launched the Astra off the line to go straight into first, and started to build a comfortable lead, but with the safety car deployed after a crash involving Huff’s former BTCC team-mate Jason Plato on lap three, the gap Huff had built was immediately wiped out.
The 37-year-old, racing with car #37 this weekend, then held off a charge from leading privateer driver Tom Ingram, but found himself with triple BTCC champion Matt Neal’s Honda on his tail, eventually falling behind with four laps to go. His second place was still the team’s best result of the season at the home of British Motor Racing.
Rob Huff said:
“I had no real expectations this weekend after qualifying 28th. I just stayed out of trouble in the first two races and got the car up the sharp end of the grid.
“I had a fantastic start, and before the safety car came out, I thought we had it all done, but unfortunately it took my lead away. But even then, when Matt (Neal) got behind me, for five or six laps I thought I could probably still win the race, but he just sneaked up the inside of me.
“Power Maxed Racing gave me a great car this weekend, and in every session we went forward and further forward. The set-up that I created at the end was on (team-mate) Senna (Proctor)’s car as well, and he charged from the back with that and got the fastest lap.
“It’s nice to be able to give the team a podium, take the team in a new direction with the car that they can go forward with and utilise.”
“The reception from the fans has also been brilliant. The fans are what make the championship – you can have any championship in the world with any cars you like, and the racing can be as close as you like, but if you haven’t got the fans, you haven’t got a championship.
“I’ve been away for 14 years, and they’ve remembered me, followed me and welcomed me back like I’ve never been welcomed before, and to have that kind of response is very humbling.”
1. Tom Ingram (Toyota) – 18 Laps
2. Jack Goff (Honda) – +0.728
3. Adam Morgan (Mercedes) – +1.754
4. Colin Turkington (BMW) – +2.973
5. Ash Sutton (Subaru) – +3.775
6. Ant Whorton-Eales (Audi) – +5.107
7. Dave Newsham (Chevrolet) – +6.525
8. Aiden Moffat (Mercedes) – +7.339
9. Rob Austin (Toyota) – +8.704
10. Michael Epps (Volkswagen) – +9.588
16. Rob Huff (Vauxhall) – +14.740
1. Jack Goff (Honda) – 22 Laps
2. Tom Ingram (Toyota) – +4.910
3. Colin Turkington (BMW) – +5.703
4. Ash Sutton (Subaru) – +6.528
5. Rob Austin (Toyota) – +7.749
6. Adam Morgan (Mercedes) – +8.438
7. Gordon Shedden (Honda) – +8.680
8. Rob Huff (Vauxhall) – +9.038
9. Dave Newsham (Chevrolet) – +9.280
10. Michael Epps (Volkswagen) – +9.547
1. Matt Neal (Honda) – 25 Laps
2. Rob Huff (Vauxhall) – +0.728
3. Dave Newsham (Chevrolet) – +0.957
4. Tom Ingram (Toyota) – +1.434
5. Rob Austin (Toyota) – +1.865
6. Adam Morgan (Mercedes) – +3.006
7. Chris Smiley (Chevrolet) – +3.626
8. Andrew Jordan (BMW) – +3.761
9. Jack Goff (Honda) – +5.568
10. Mat Jackson (Ford) – +6.457