Rob Huff secures epic double-victory in Shanghai
Rob Huff takes two wins on his CTCC return in Shanghai and comes away with the championship lead
Rob Huff enjoyed a perfect start to his China Touring Car Championship programme after winning both races with the SAIC Volkswagen 333 Racing team at the Shanghai International Circuit. Huff won a crazy first race where every car ran off the track in the rain, while he fought from 12th to first in the second race to take the winner's trophy again.
The Cambridge-based driver is joining the Chinese factory SAIC Volkswagen team for a partial campaign in 2018, racing at the opening round as well as the last three events later in the year, and he got off to the perfect start in Shanghai with a perfect score, topping every practice session, taking pole position and then winning both races.
The weekend started with a close-fought qualifying, with Huff’s pole coming in the dying moments after a late improvement by the Kia of Alex Fontana in the slippery conditions.
In Race 1, rain was a factor again, as though the race started in the dry, the heavens opened after three laps, with every car running wide at Turn 1 including Huff. While Huff just skipped through the gravel, many cars slammed into the barriers and into retirement. The race was red-flagged and everyone fitted Kumho wet tyres to the cars for the restart.
Huff went on to win the race by two seconds over Fontana, but victory comes at a cost in the CTCC, as the grid for Race 2 takes the top 12 from Race 1 and reverses them, putting Huff down in 12th on Sunday.
After one lap in the second race, the former world champion was already up to sixth, just as the safety car came out after an accident involving one of his Volkswagen team-mates.
When the race resumed, he took just four laps to take the lead, passing two cars at the Parabolica in one move and romped to victory ahead of Martin Cao’s Ford to mark off the perfect start to his China Touring Car Championship season.
Huff’s programme in the CTCC is just four events, meaning he’ll miss the next four rounds and rejoin the championship in three months’ time at the Ningbo International Speedpark, when the championship races alongside the FIA World Touring Car Cup.
Rob Huff said:
“That was an absolutely perfect weekend, and also quite a crazy one.
“Qualifying was pretty close; I thought we had it all sewn up, but then Alex (Fontana) put in a quick lap and we just had time to go out again and get the job done.
“The first race was going well until it started raining. I think they took too long to throw the red flag, as absolutely every car lost it on slicks into the first corner and there was a lot of carnage. Luckily, we didn’t end up in the barriers like some of the other guys, and after that it was just about being careful and getting the car to the finish.
“Race 2 was so much fun. The great things about these cars and these kinds of tracks is that you can pass in many places. To take a double win for the SAIC VW333 Racing team is a fantastic start to the year and should put them in good stead for the next few races until I’m back with them at Ningbo with the WTCR.”
Shanghai qualifying result
1 – Rob Huff – SAIC VW333 Racing – Volkswagen Lamando GTS – 2:09.055
2 – Alex Fontana – Dongfeng Kia Racing – Kia K3 2.0T - +0.180
3 – Martin Cao – Changan Ford FRD Team – Ford Focus 2.0T - +0.624
4 – Andy Yan – Changan Ford FRD Team – Ford Focus 2.0T - +0.741
5 – Leo Yi Hong Li – Donfeng Kia Racing – Kia K3 2.0T - +1.088
Shanghai Race 1 result
1 – Rob Huff – SAIC VW333 Racing – Volkswagen Lamando GTS – 6 laps
2 – Alex Fontana – Dongfeng Kia Racing – Kia K3 2.0T - +2.238
3 – Martin Cao – Changan Ford FRD Team - +3.816
4 – Zhang Da Sheng – Changan Ford FRD Team - +6.972
5 – Zheng Zhen Dong – SAIC VW333 Racing - +6.998
Shanghai Race 2 result
1 – Rob Huff – SAIC VW333 Racing – Volkswagen Lamando GTS – 12 laps
2 – Martin Cao – Changan Ford FRD Team – Ford Focus 2.0T - +1.001
3 – Jason Zhang – Dongfeng Kia Racing – Kia K3 2.0T - +10.375
4 – Zheng Zhen Dong – SAIC VW333 Racing – Volkswagen Lamando GTS – 10.630
5 – Rainey He – Changan Ford FRD Team – Ford Focus 2.0T - +11.900