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Rob Huff: First half of the season has been ‘character building’

Toyota’s Rob Huff concluded the first half of his return season to the British Touring Car Championship with a ‘character building’ weekend at Oulton Park.

Huff secured a trio of points-paying positions, but struggled to make inroads into the top ten as he completed a low-key weekend in Cheshire.

Huff made it through to Q2 for the third time this season, but his pace was only good enough to put him in 11th in qualifying, over three tenths of a second away from progressing into the ‘Quick Six’ Q3 part of the session.

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Getting the less favourable hard tyre out of the way in the opening race, Huff nonetheless crossed the finish line where he started the race, which later became tenth when a rival ahead was penalised.

On the faster soft tyre for race two, the 44-year-old had to take avoiding action at the first corner when Tom Chilton and Adam Morgan made contact, forcing Huff onto the grass, although he dropped just one place to 11th.

Having risen as high as seventh by mid-distance, Huff suffered with tyre damage late in the race as a result of his earlier excursion, and dropped to 11th.

Having missed out on the reverse-grid draw, Huff started 11th for the final race and would have been tenth but a five-second penalty for a false start saw him classified in 12th.

Having scored eight top ten finishes in his first half a season back in the BTCC, including one win, the 2012 World Touring Car Champion admitted it had been a character-building start to his return to domestic touring car racing.

“I think the best way to describe the weekend, and probably the first half of the season as a whole, is character-building,” said Huff.

“We lacked a little bit of outright pace at Oulton Park and I think that showed as we couldn’t really kick on and take the fight to the top five or six cars.

“We sacrificed the results a bit in an effort to find a better route with the set-up and that paid off in so much as the car improved with every session, but ultimately we are clearly still lacking a bit of all-round performance to be challenging regularly up at the sharp end, which is where we all believe we belong.

“I had a few mechanical gremlins with the gearbox that hampered me at the start of the races and Andrew [Watson] and I both got a bit unlucky in race two when we had to take evasive action, which left me with a cut on one of my front tyres from running over debris.

“That caused some delamination, which in turn cost me a few positions in the final laps, so that was obviously frustrating.

“On the positive side, the whole team worked exceptionally hard as always and it was great to see Josh [Cook] get a win.

“It’s easy to forget that both myself and the team are still learning and that results were never going to come immediately.

“This is a tough championship and we’re making progress at every single event; everyone in the team is working hard to ensure we become regular front-runners.

“We’ve got some work to do over the summer break and we’re working on a few little upgrades that we can bring to the table for the second half of the season which should improve the package as a whole so I’m feeling positive.”

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