Rob Huff has released a statement after being awarded a controversial penalty for contact during the Macau Guia Race, which ultimately cost him victory.
On the second lap of the race on Sunday, Huff made contact with the rear of Ma Qing Hua’s Lynk & Co, which sent the Chinese driver spinning into the barriers at Mandarin Bend with a great deal of force.
For his role in the incident, the stewards awarded Huff a thirty-second time penalty, which demoted him from first to twenty-third.
Immediately after the race, the MG X-Power driver released a statement explaining his role in the incident.
“We know that the MG is not a great starter. It doesn’t have a launch strategy in the car, so of course again we lost out to Ma.
“The first lap was good, everything was going well, but then he had a bit of a slide in the middle of turn two and saw me coming to the inside.
“I had a really good run through the corner, he pulled to the right, and I wasn’t sure if he was trying to defend or if he had a problem because he slowed a lot on the exit. I tried to move my car, but at 220 kilometres per hour the car is very unstable anyway, especially through that corner.
“I’m sorry for the crash with him, it’s not what I wanted and it’s not the way I wanted to race today, but it is what it is.”
At that point, Huff had not yet been dealt his penalty blow by the stewards, and therefore shared the podium with MG team-mate Andy Yan – who was also later demoted from third to twenty-fifth after being found guilty of passing Sunny Wong under yellow flags.
Following the news of his race victory being taken away, Huff took to social media to say he didn’t believe he could avoid the contact.
“Unfortunately, due to an incident on the second lap, we’ve been found guilty of “avoidable contact”, and have been given a 30-second penalty, which of course in a race which ended under a red flag, means we drop to pretty much last.
“I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to avoid it – and the accident was in no way intentional – but I’m glad the driver’s OK.”
The 40-year-old Brit would at least have one race victory to take home from the weekend though, having triumphed in Saturday’s qualifying race.
However there has been some confusion over whether or not that victory constitutes as his tenth official Guia Race win.
According to circuit officials, non-FIA events (such as the TCR China Series which Huff competed in this weekend) are subject to two distinct races – the first to set the grid order for the second race, and the latter to act as the main feature event, known as the official Macau Guia Race.
As such, Huff’s qualifying race win appears not to have been recognised as an official tenth victory, reducing his tally back down to nine.
But there, an issue arises. In 2015, Huff again won the weekend’s ‘qualifying race’ as part of that year’s (non-FIA) TCR International Series finale. By this logic, Huff’s actual win tally must surely be eight, rather than nine, which is where the circuit officials’ maths simply doesn’t add up.
Inwardly though, none of that matters to the Huff camp, who are sticking to the line of ten race victories around the famous Guia circuit.
The rationale behind this mindset is that whether they were ‘qualifying races’ or not, the two non-FIA races that Huff has won around the circuit were still full-points rounds of their respective championships. Naturally, this would suggest that they are still perfectly valid and noteworthy victories.
With that in mind, Huff was delighted to have reached double figures, even if it wasn’t as straightforward a weekend as he might have hoped.
“It’s been great to be here in Macau and claim my tenth race win around the Guia circuit, and achieve MG XPOWER’s goals of winning both the teams’ championship and the models’ championship,” he said.
“It’s something we’ve been chasing for a little while now. It was three years ago, 2017, when I last won the Guia Race. So we’ve been building up to it and [there’s been] lots of pressure from everyone around me! But yeah, to come to Macau and to do the 14-day quarantine, it was really worth the effort that everyone made.”