Rob Huff plays joker card to perfection in race two Vila Real win

Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff claimed victory in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race on the streets of Vila Real, timing his joker lap to perfection to win his first race of the season.

Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller started the partially reversed-grid race from pole position, and it was the Frenchman who led in the opening eight laps, three of which were held behind the safety car due to a second lap incident.

The safety car was required because home hero Tiago Monteiro had picked up a puncture, causing his car to drift wide into the path of fellow Honda racer Esteban Guerrieri, who was innocently collected as both drivers then crashed into the barriers and out of the race.

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When the race resumed, Muller led from Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Attila Tassi and Huff.

Tassi elected to take his joker on lap seven, and Muller went a lap later. But the Lynk & Co driver made a mistake on the joker chicane, losing him time and dropping him behind both Tassi and Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona.

That left Huff in the lead, with the Brit staying out until lap 12 before taking his joker, by which time he had built up a margin of over three seconds over Tassi.

It was fortunate for Huff, because on the next lap his team-mate Dániel Nagy crashed out at the chicane, his CUPRA bouncing off the tyres and blocking the track in front of Nathanaël Berthon.

With nowhere to go for Berthon, he crashed into the Hungarian’s stricken car, causing a late-race safety car – which was effectively the end of the race as there was less than three minutes left on the clock.

Huff thus won the 100th race in WTCR ahead of Tassi, who scored his first podium of the season, and Azcona.

Muller never recovered any ground after his mistake and was fourth, the leading Cyan driver, ahead of Norbert Michelisz in fifth.

Comtoyou Racing’s Mehdi Bennani lost a place with his joker and finished in sixth, ahead of Ma Qing Hua in seventh.

Reigning champion Yann Ehrlacher was eighth – although there had been some debate in the Cyan Racing squad about whether to ask Ma to let him past.

The top ten was completed by Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami and Cyan’s race one winner Santiago Urrutia, the former having to defend hard from the Uruguayan.

Thed Björk was 11th – the Swede had passed Urrutia at one stage for tenth before giving the place back to his title-contending team-mate.

Azcona continues to lead the drivers’ standings with 153 points, ahead of Urrutia (137), Ehrlacher (132), Huff (130) and Girolami (113).

Race result

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 79 Rob HUFF Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 15 34:41.616 2:01.525 4
2 9 Attila TASSI Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 15 0.388 2:02.126 2
3 96 Mikel AZCONA BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 0.935 2:01.551 3
4 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 1.474 2:02.129 1
5 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 2.644 2:01.705 6
6 25 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 15 3.435 2:03.080 5
7 55 MA Qing Hua Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 3.916 2:02.535 7
8 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 5.125 2:02.141 9
9 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 15 7.000 2:03.789 8
10 12 Santiago URRUTIA Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 7.305 2:03.631 10
11 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 8.249 2:03.281 12
12 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 15 1:13.714 2:03.674 16
13 16 Gilles MAGNUS Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 15 1:16.367 2:03.535 11
R 99 Dániel NAGY Zengő Motorsport Services Kft CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 11 DNF 2:03.591 17
R 17 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 11 DNF 2:03.851 15
R 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 2 DNF N/A 14
R 18 Tiago MONTEIRO Liqui Moly Team Engstler Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 1 DNF N/A 13
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