Rob Huff takes victory in reverse-grid race at Suzuka

Rob Huff takes victory in reverse-grid race at Suzuka

Rob Huff
Photo: Clement Marin / DPPI

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff took victory in the reversed-grid second FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at Suzuka, after getting the jump on pole-sitter Pepe Oriola at the start.

From the front row of the grid, Huff got off to a better start than the Campos Racing CUPRA of Oriola, putting his Volkswagen up the inside heading into the first corner as the Spaniard, on the outside line from pole, did not aggressively move to cover the line.

The Brit then looked comfortable in the lead of the race, managing his gap to Oriola to claim a second win of the season.

Oriola had no comeback to Huff and settled for his seventh podium of the season in second, whilst BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz completed the podium in third, after crucially gaining a position on the Audi of Denis Dupont on the lap three.

The race was only briefly interrupted by a one-lap safety car intervention when Esteban Guerrieri was fired off into the gravel at Turn 4 on the opening lap, shortly after the Münnich Motorsport driver had passed SLR’s Mehdi Bennani around the outside at Turn 3, with Bennani making contact with Guerrieri’s Honda to pitch him off the circuit.

Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis was the best of the Audi drivers in fourth after his team-mate, Denis Dupont, dropped down the order on lap eight when he began to struggle with his car late in the race.

Dupont slipping back allowed BRC Racing’s Gabriele Tarquini to finish in fifth, and in doing so the Italian has eked out a slender ten-point advantage at the top of the driver’s championship standings.

Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon brought his Alfa Romeo home in sixth, with the Italian making a well-timed pass on DG Sport’s Aurélien Comte for the position at the Spoon Curve on lap seven.

Comte had to settle for eighth in his Peugeot, ahead of the second SLR Volkswagen of Bennani in ninth and Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher in tenth. Ehrlacher had earlier had to start the race from 12th after picking up a five-place grid penalty for unsafely re-joining the circuit in Saturday’s first race.

In the title race, crucially neither of the YMR Hyundai drivers scored a point, with Yvan Muller the best of the duo in 11th place. Thed Björk, who only qualified in 13th, made no progress at all in the race and finished the race where he started, leaving the Swede 27 points from the top of the table with just four races left to run.

The only other retirement from the race was Zengő Motorsport’s Zsolt Szabó, who crashed into fellow CUPRA racer John Filippi at the hairpin on lap three and had to pull off the circuit due to the damage further around the lap.

Race three is scheduled to get underway at 12:30 local time (03:30 GMT, 04:30 CET).

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 12 Rob HUFF Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 23:21.959 2:13.289 2
2 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 10 1.444 2:13.163 1
3 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 1.938 2:13.885 4
4 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 10 7.685 2:14.420 5
5 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 8.984 2:13.989 8
6 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 10 9.418 2:13.538 9
7 20 Denis DUPONT Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 10 10.960 2:14.374 3
8 7 Aurélien COMTE DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 10 11.749 2:14.130 7
9 25 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 12.186 2:14.509 6
10 68 Yann EHRLACHER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 10 13.894 2:14.388 12
11 48 Yvan MULLER YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 14.127 2:14.144 11
12 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 10 14.594 2:14.124 14
13 11 Thed BJÖRK YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 14.760 2:13.714 13
14 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 10 17.632 2:14.384 17
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 10 18.135 2:13.825 16
16 42 Timo SCHEIDER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 10 19.010 2:14.488 18
17 23 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 10 19.803 2:14.139 19
18 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 10 20.603 2:14.183 20
19 9 Tom CORONEL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 10 21.176 2:14.467 23
20 70 Mat’o HOMOLA DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 10 21.646 2:13.736 15
21 8 Norbert NAGY Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 10 23.111 2:14.997 24
22 27 John FILIPPI Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 9 + 1 LAP 2:14.705 22
23 16 Luigi FERRARA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 8 + 2 LAPS 2:13.886 21
R 66 Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 2 DNF 2:49.471 25
R 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR 0 DNF N/A 10
WTCR points deficit chart
Graphic: TouringCars.Net