Rob Huff scores vital championship points in Marrakech
Marrakech, Morocco - 09/04/17
Race 1: DNF
Race 2: 9th
Rob Huff has scored vital championship points in a challenging first weekend of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Marrakech, battling back from damage in the first race to score points in the second, making several passes on the unpassable Circuit Moulay El Hassan.
The 2012 champion was unable to take up his second row starting position for the Main Race after an incident in the Opening Race with Honda’s Ryo Michigami. The two came together on the first lap, with Huff’s ALL-INKL Münnich Motorsport Citroën suffering damage to its steering, and he was forced to head to the pits for repairs.
With the repairs taking place outside of the 15-minute time allocated, Rob would have to start an unlucky 13th for the second race, and had a mission ahead of him at the unforgiving street track, where passing is almost impossible.
Rob was able to work his way up to ninth, inside the points-paying positions, before he found himself stuck behind Chevrolet driver Tom Coronel, with the two sparring throughout the last ten laps of the race.
The team had also faced an unwanted distraction on Friday afternoon, when it was discovered their new Citroën C-Elysée WTCC hadn’t been fitted with the latest specification of safety seat belts, and weren’t able to take part until they were fitted.
With racing seat belts something you can buy in Morocco, there was a frantic search to find a solution on Friday night, with Sabelt UK coming to the rescue, with the company’s managing director himself making an overnight journey to bring them to Marrakech, which allowed Rob to get out for the second practice session, just losing 45-minutes of track time.
Rob Huff said:
“We were on the back foot straight away after missing the first free practice at the first event of the year. We couldn’t do any practice starts, and that hindered us when we got to the race, and I was out of position when I was fighting the Honda of Ryo Michigami.
“I saw a gap and went for it, but he just turned in on me and that broke my steering rack. The boys did an amazing job to get me back out for Race 2. We scored points, and that’s the important thing. When I lost the championship in 2011, I lost it by three points. We scored four points this weekend, and they might become very critical.
“We’re now going to Monza and then Budapest, both where we were very good in testing, and then on to the Nürburgring, which is one of my favourite tracks, so I’m still very positive.
“I’m still more excited about this year than I’ve ever been. Even though we’ve had a bad weekend, this is the worst track for the Citroën on the calendar, so if we were going to get our worst weekend out of the way, it’s best to do it here.
“The good thing is no one’s exactly run away with it today either; hopefully we’ve just got our bad luck out of the way early.
“I also have to thank Sabelt UK and Steve Bennett, as without their help we probably wouldn’t have been on track this weekend. We went through so many people on Friday to help us, and then it clicked in my head that Nicky Grist does all this stuff and I gave him a call, he put me in touch with Steve, and it’s all worked out, but it was still a huge distraction for us.”
WTCC Morocco Qualifying
1. Tiago Monteiro (Honda)
2. Nestor Girolami (Volvo)
3. Norbert Michelisz (Honda)
4. Rob Huff (Citroën)
5. Mehdi Bennani (Citroën)
WTCC Morocco Opening Race
1. Esteban Guerrieri – (Chevrolet) 20 Laps
2. Thed Björk – (Volvo) 0.654
3. Mehdi Bennani – (Citroën ) 1.289
4. Nicky Catsburg – (Volvo) 1.921
5. Norbert Michelisz – (Honda) 2.201
6. Tiago Monteiro – (Honda) 2.803
7. Tom Chilton – (Citroën ) 14.032
8. Tom Coronel – (Chevrolet) 20.390
9. Néstor Girolami – (Volvo) 20.858
10. Aurélien Panis – (Honda) 21.950
11. Daniel Nagy – (Honda) DNF
12. John Filippi – (Citroën ) DNF
13. Rob Huff – (Citroën ) DNF
14. Ryo Michigami – (Honda) DNF
15. Yann Ehrlacher – (Lada) DNF
WTCC Morocco Main Race
1. Tiago Monteiro – (Honda) 23 Laps
2. Norbert Michelisz – (Honda) 0.751
3. Néstor Girolami – (Volvo) 2.120
4. Nicky Catsburg – (Volvo) 3.702
5. Tom Chilton – (Citroën ) 4.519
6. Mehdi Bennani – (Citroën ) 4.847
7. Thed Björk – (Volvo) 5.073
8. Tom Coronel – (Chevrolet) 6.363
9. Rob Huff – (Citroën ) 7.658
10. Ryo Michigami – (Honda) 12.197
11. John Filippi – (Citroën ) 20.402
12. Yann Ehrlacher – (Lada) 22.035
13. Esteban Guerrieri – (Chevrolet) 22.308
14. Daniel Nagy – (Honda) 42.880
15. Aurélien Panis – (Honda) DNF
WTCC Championship Standings
1. Tiago Monteiro – (Honda) 43 pts
2. Norbert Michelisz – (Honda) 36 pts
3. Nicky Catsburg – (Volvo) 28 pts
4. Mehdi Bennani – (Citroën ) 26 pts
5. Néstor Girolami – (Volvo) 25 pts
6. Thed Björk – (Volvo) 25 pts
7. Esteban Guerrieri – (Chevolet) 25 pts
8. Tom Chilton – (Citroën ) 19 pts
9. Tom Coronel – (Chevolet) 8 pts
10. Rob Huff – (Citroën ) 4 pts
11. Aurélien Panis – (Honda) 1 pts
12. Ryo Michigami – (Honda) 1 pts
13. John Filippi – (Citroën ) 0 pts
14. Yann Ehrlacher – (Lada) 0 pts