Rob Huff believes that Volkswagen’s fortunes are turning around in the FIA World Touring Car Cup, after the SLR driver enjoyed a ‘great weekend’ at the Slovakiaring with three points finishes.
Volkswagen has had a challenging start to the WTCR season, with the marque’s best result prior to Slovakia being a pair of sevenths which Huff scored at the previous round in Hungary.
The problems faced by the team are compounded by the fact that they have been unable to shed any compensation weight, unlike most of their rivals, due to a change in the ECU for the car, meaning the Golfs are still carrying 60 kg of extra weight.
Qualifying on Friday again showed the Golf GTi TCR car’s lack of pace compared to its rivals, with Huff only able to qualify in 24th for the first race.
However, the second qualifying session saw the Brit time his final run on a drying circuit to perfection, hauling him into Q2 and allowing Huff to secure the reverse-grid pole by ending up with the tenth fastest time.
After picking up 11 places in race one, Huff drove defensively in race two to secure fifth at the chequered flag, having lost out to eventual winner Néstor Girolami on the second lap.
He then followed up with another points finish in race three, slipping to a 13th place finish from tenth on the grid.
Despite only once breaking into the top ten, Huff was pleased with his weekend results, which have seen him move up to 13th in the drivers’ championship standings.
“It’s been a great weekend at what we thought would be our bogey circuit,” said Huff. “First, hats off the guys, we had a tough first qualifying and turned it around to get top ten pace for the second session, and that gave us more than what we could have hoped for with the reversed grid pole.
“In race one, the plan was to stay out of trouble, and that we managed to do that and still get into the points was amazing. The conditions were slightly slippery, which is perfect for me, and I was able to get some good points for the team and have a perfect car ready for race two.
“I had a good start and was able to grab the lead back from Girolami’s Honda, but we ultimately didn’t have the pace against them and the Hyundais and Alfas this weekend with the ballast we’re carrying, against the ballast some of those guys aren’t carrying.
“I’m very pleased with fifth. It’s our best result yet, again not the results we’re targeting, but things are turning around, and when we get to Volkswagen’s home race at the Nürburgring we should be able to take some of the lead out of the car and finally be on the same level as the rest.”
Huff believes he could have finished even higher in the final race of the day, but for contact from Daniel Haglöf, who eventually retired from the race.
“In race three, I was holding my own until we got hit by Haglöf, who had a tyre failure at Turn 3, and that cost us a few positions, but at least we still made the finish and showed there’s potential – and we’re going the right way.
“Zandvoort is next up in just a week, and that track was good to us last year, so I can’t wait until next week and see what we can do.”