Rob Huff held his hands up to the mistake which cost him a chance of victory in last weekend’s FIA World Touring Car Cup races at the Hungaroring, with the CUPRA driver picking up no points from the races as a result.
Having qualified on pole position on Saturday, including posting a lap time in Q2 which was six tenths of a second below the qualifying lap record, hopes were high for Huff that he could break a run of poor form in 2021.
In race one Huff was running in seventh just behind home hero Norbert Michelisz, having made up a couple of places at the start, when he clipped a tyre stack on the entry to the Turn 6 chicane, breaking the suspension on his car.
Not only did that error eliminate Huff on the spot, it also meant his Zengő Motorsport team would face a race against time to fix his car within the allotted 15 minutes of repair time for race two.
If the team had taken his car out of Parc Fermé conditions, Huff would have had to start from the back of the field, so instead the decision was made to try and complete the repairs within 15 minutes.
The team fell marginally short of completing the job in the allotted time, and so Huff had to start the race from the pit lane.
He also picked up a drive-through penalty to add insult to injury when he was found to have left the pitlane when the pit exit was closed.
From the back of the field, Huff could only finish in 18th, picking off just three drivers on his way to a points-less finish.
“It’s been a positive weekend, although it’s obviously a shame it didn’t have the ending we would have wanted,” said Huff.
“The car was fantastic in qualifying. I learned a lot about how to get the pace out of the Goodyear tyre this weekend, which is very different to the tyres we used to have.
“I didn’t expect the lap time we did in Qualifying 2. When Mikel [Azcona] did the 1:52.2 in Q1, I thought that was probably achievable, but I certainly didn’t expect to go to a 1:51.5.
“I was watching my timer on my fast lap, and I didn’t quite believe it. Coming out of the final corner it was telling me I was nine-tenths faster than my previous best lap.
“Unfortunately, and I put my hands up to it, I made a mistake in race one. My plan for that race was just to protect the car. I managed to pass two drivers at the start without any trouble and went side-by-side a couple of times with Norbert Michelisz.
“I was just cruising, and then I just caught the tyre stack, and that was enough to break the suspension and there was just too much damage.
“In order to fix it in time to make it out to take up our pole position, we needed just another 15 seconds of repair time.
“We started the second race from the pit lane. Although the geometry of the car wasn’t fantastic, the pace was great. I started about five or six seconds back, and then another 30 seconds for a drive-through penalty because we missed getting out on time. The car felt fantastic though, and even from there we were able to catch up and pass a few cars.
“The positives are also that I now feel I’ve unlocked the key to qualifying and to getting the pace out of the car this weekend.
“I have the new lap record at the Hungaroring, the team’s home circuit, and this was also the first pole position for Zengő Motorsport and the CUPRA Leon Competición in WTCR.
“We can now go into the summer break positive of having a good second half to the season when we race again at Most in Czechia.”