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Rob Huff takes determined race two win as title challengers falter

Leopard Racing’s Rob Huff charged to a victory in the second TCR International Series race in China, overturning a 10-second deficit to James Nash to win ahead of WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli.

At the start, reverse-grid front row men Frédéric Vervisch and Davit Kajaia failed to get a good getaway, allowing Craft-Bamboo Racing’s James Nash to leap from third on the grid to second and lead by the end of the opening lap after passing the Comtoyou Racing Audi at Turn 7.

GE-Force’s Davit Kajaia had then briefly got himself into second, but the Alfa Romeo driver would not hold the position for long as Vervisch got past on lap two and then contact on lap four broke the suspension on the car.

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From there, Nash was able to open up a ten-second lead over the chasing pack, as Vervisch acted as a bottleneck to the field behind him. Further back, the other Audi of Stefano Comini forced Leopard Racing’s title contender Jean-Karl Vernay off the circuit at Turn 13, dropping the Frenchman to 16th.

The bottleneck began to ease on lap six when Rob Huff, who had started from tenth, got past Vervisch for second on lap six and set about cutting the lead to Nash.

In the space of just eight laps Huff slashed the gap, and on lap 16 he made his move on his fellow Brit at Turn 7, taking the lead and going on to open up a comfortable two-second margin to secure his first win of the season.

Morbidelli also got past Nash on the following lap to secure second, although the Brit was able to hold on to the final podium position thanks to a near-20-second margin over the rest of the battling pack.

Alain Menu was the leading Hyundai in fourth, with the additional 40 kg of ballast and 5% power reduction ahead of the race appearing to only slightly hold back the charge of the South Korean cars.

Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Pepe Oriola took fifth, having lost out to Menu on the final lap, ahead of the second Hyundai of Gabriele Tarquini in sixth. The Italian had at one stage been up to fourth, but lost out towards the end of the race.

ZZZ Racing’s Zhendong Zhang managed to stay out of trouble to claim a solid points finish in seventh, ending up as the leading Audi driver, ahead of M1RA’s leading Honda of Roberto Colciago in eighth.

The second M1RA car of Attila Tassi took ninth, despite a drive-through penalty for a jump start, and with Vernay having to pit for a new tyre on lap 13, it allowed him to claw back a vital six points in the title race to slightly close the gap to 21 points.

WestCoast Racing’s Rafaël Galiana completed the top ten in a race which featured a high rate of attrition.

Vervisch ultimately retired from the race after 13 laps, meaning both Comtoyou Audis didn’t take the chequered flag, with Comini also stopping after four laps.

Dušan Borković, Daniel Lloyd and Denis Dupont all failed to start the race, with Lloyd and Dupont suffering from accident damage picked up in race one.

Race result

1 3 Rob HUFF Leopard Racing Team WRT Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 19 19 LAPS 1:34.169 10
2 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI West Coast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 19 2.403 1:34.111 7
3 54 James NASH Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT León TCR 19 5.511 1:35.418 3
4 33 Alain MENU BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 19 23.435 1:35.115 12
5 74 Pepe ORIOLA Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT León TCR 19 24.206 1:35.223 8
6 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 19 24.668 1:34.956 13
7 81 Zhendong ZHANG ZZZ Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 19 25.442 1:35.565 16
8 5 Roberto COLCIAGO M1RA Honda Civic Type-R TCR 19 26.902 1:35.455 5
9 9 Attila TASSI M1RA Honda Civic Type-R TCR 19 36.852 1:35.342 4
10 99 Rafaël GALIANA West Coast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 19 50.687 1:36.269 18
11 18 Duncan ENDE Icarus Motorsports SEAT León TCR 19 1:09.015 1:36.230 17
12 2 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team WRT Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 18 + 1LAP 1:34.552 9
R 28 Aurélien PANIS Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR 15 DNF 1:35.730 11
R 6 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 DNF 1:35.689 1
R 71 Tengyi JIANG ZZZ Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 DNF 1:37.044 19
R 1 Stefano COMINI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 4 DNF 1:38.691 15
R 16 Davit KAJAIA GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 4 DNF 1:36.603 2
R 70 Mat’o HOMOLA DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra TCR 3 DNF 1:38.604 20
NS 62 Dušan BORKOVIĆ GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR DNS N/A 14
NS 17 Daniel LLOYD Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT León TCR DNS N/A 6
NS 4 Denis DUPONT Comtoyou Racing SEAT León TCR DNS N/A 21
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