Rob Huff had a great first weekend in the TCR International Series at Spa-Francorchamps, racing for Leopard Racing Team WRT in the #3 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Huff was on course for race victory on Saturday, but the 2012 WTCC champion was quick to help his title-focussed team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay, and handed him the lead and his first win of the season.
The weekend was Rob’s first with the top Belgian team in the TCR International Series. As it’s the third round of the championship, Rob’s main task is to help the team with the set-up and handling of the car, and to aid his French team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay in his bid for the championship title.
After taking part in the Belgian national championship TCR Benelux series race at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks’ ago as a warm up, the team and Rob knew that the circuit was not the best for the Volkswagen Golf, with the lower aerodynamic profile and longer wheelbase Audi RS 3 certainly the car to have.
Nevertheless, the team had a good first race, with Huff and Vernay lining up next to each other on the grid, with Huff staying behind defending Vernay during the race, which allowed him to pass the Audi of Frédéric Vervisch and score key points with fourth, with Huff finishing in sixth.
In Race 2 on Saturday morning, things were much better for the Volkswagens, with Huff making a great start, managing to avoid a first corner crash between three cars to emerge in second position.
Huff then grabbed the lead on lap two, and fought off challenge after challenge from behind, until his team-mate caught up on lap five, and with a smart move, Huff was able to block three cars down the inside and allow Vernay around at the Les Combes corner and into the lead, with the team going on to score a 1-2 finish, their best result of the season.
Rob Huff said:
“Race 1 was tough, as Vervisch was very slow and holding all of us up. I had to keep back from JK to allow him to attack, but also hold off three other cars behind me.
“The Audi was so strong on the straights we had no chance to get past, but we made good progress with our car and it was still really good. That’s hopefully what I’m bringing to the team, as we’re now running a set up on the car which is completely different to what the team has run in the past. We were really strong in qualifying and the race at a circuit where we thought we’d struggle.
“Race 2 though was a really great race. I had a great start, I managed to stay on the left and watch the crash happen and get the cut back and I was straight up to P2. I then got past Edouard Mondron on lap two into Les Combes for the lead.
“On the fifth lap, I could see Lessennes, Mondron and Comini all slipstreaming each other, and I saw Vernay to my left and thought this could work quite well. I just checked up a bit so Vernay could get around my outside and it couldn’t have worked out any better.
“It’s the second weekend we’ve worked together, and we understand each other very well. JK’s liking what I’m doing with the set-up of the car, and the engineers are happy with what I’m doing. As a racing driver, you’re there for the team, and my job here is not to win as I’m not doing the full championship, it’s to help JK. “