Rob Huff says that the key to his victory in the second FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Anneau du Rhin was a strong start, allowing him to overhaul pole-sitter Mehdi Bennani when the lights went out.
Zengő Motorsport’s Huff picked up his second win of the season, and his fifth podium out of 12 races so far this year, in the partially reversed second race in France.
The CUPRA driver had earlier finished fifth in the opening race, and the pair of results have helped to keep him in contention for the overall WTCR drivers’ title, albeit with the Brit still being 54 points adrift of series leader Mikel Azcona.
“Ultimately it came down to the best start I made of the season so far and probably one of the most important starts of the season,” explained Huff.
“I just got it completely hooked up, got a good launch to get alongside Mehdi and I think he saw me coming so he didn’t try to close the door too much.
“I knew he was going to try to come behind me quickly to stop Norbi [Michelisz], but we were very fair and the first lap was just about seeing how the car was different because we’d changed it quite a lot.
“It was about exploring what we had and it took me three or four laps to get into a rhythm. At that point Mehdi was quicker than me and putting me under pressure, but it was about making sure I had enough of a gap so that he couldn’t have a cheeky look up the inside anywhere.
“As the race progressed I managed to get a few more tenths each lap and by the end it was seven or eight tenths. That was just enough to give me a bit of comfort
“Mehdi was super-fast in Turns 1 and 2. I in the middle sector I was quicker and in the last sector we were pretty even. I knew I had to really nail the middle sector and get those two or three tenths because he was going to get them back in the first sector and I had to build the margin. It worked out perfectly.
“I was counting the laps down and praying there wasn’t going to be a safety car or any other interference. It all worked out. I’m super, super chuffed.”
Huff prasied the efforts of Zengő in enabling him to remain in contention for the title, and leading the WTCR Trophy standings, after such a turbulent pre-season.
“We’re massively punching above our weight. One week before the season started we didn’t think we were going to be racing. We did a day-and-a-half of testing and that’s all we’ve had this year.
“To be able to put in the results we’re putting in and getting the performances we’re getting is because of a team that’s totally glued together. It’s super-tight, super-motivated and there’s just no pressure.
“There were no expectations on us pre-season so to be where we are feels like we’re on the flying carpet and enjoying every moment.
“The job now is to push Mikel for the rest of the season. We don’t want to make it too easy for him.”
Huff acknowledged that it is currently his successes in the reversed-grid second races which are helping to keep him in overall contention.
“It’s exciting because race one happens and we lose some points and then we gain them back in race two. I don’t think either of us has [Azcona or Huff] made a mistake this year. We’ve both finished every race in the points and that’s what it’s about.
“Ultimately we have to wait for the end of the season to see what’s going to happen, but we’ll keep pushing.
“We never had much time to think about it before the season and we’re just taking each race as it comes. We’re very much surviving on the reverse-grid races at the moment but that’s bringing in the points. We’re still scoring in race one as well so that’s all good.
“If we finish in the top three of the standings, it will be a dream come true for the team and something that’s totally unexpected by not just the team, but everyone else on the grid, I think.
“Hats off to the team for giving me a car I can perform in.”