Rob Huff was pleased to score a podium in Saturday’s first FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) races in Morocco, saying that he ‘didn’t expect’ to be in the top three so early on in the championship.
Huff started the race from fourth in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi, but moved up to third at the start when he got past the Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay on lap one.
The race was then interrupted by a red-flag period and when it resumed Huff followed Hyundai leaders Gabriele Tarquini and Thed Björk on the street circuit, unable to find a way past.
“We got a really good start which is something we’ve been working on over the winter,” said Huff. “I obviously jumped JK [Vernay], which was really good because we were faster than him.
“I was glad not to get held up behind him which meant I could put a bit of pressure on these guys [at the front]. Right at the beginning I could certainly hold them if not go a little bit quicker.”
With eight years of previous experience of racing in Marrakech, Huff admits that he thought the lead battle could end in tears due to the difficulty of passing on the barrier-lined circuit.
“Gabriele was just taking a bit of time to warm everything up as he does. Then obviously the show began and Thed started nibbling, nibbling and at one point I thought it would end in tears because Thed had a throw up the inside at a hairpin but managed just to get out of it.
“That gave me a chance to try to get alongside Thed. but it was a tough race, a long race and tough with the safety cars so difficult to manage as a driver.”
Having seen the performance of the Hyundai i30 N TCR first-hand in the TCR International Series last year, when Tarquini won from 14th on the grid, Huff admits that he didn’t expect to be able to challenge the South Korean cars from the off.
“To be on the podium for the first weekend we didn’t expect and I’m not going to lie because we thought Hyundai and Honda would be right up there.
“We were right behind obviously but to be on the podium and get some good points in this first weekend, this first race, is exactly what we need.”