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Jun 23, 2014 - 06:14 AM
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Double Disappointment For Huff As Frenetic Weekend Comes To Nothing
Posted by: newsla on Jun 23, 2014 - 06:08 AM
Sports Cars
Double Disappointment For Huff As Frenetic Weekend Comes To Nothing


Britain’s Rob Huff, never shy of a challenge, completed a packed weekend of racing at Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife with little to show for his mammoth efforts (21-22 June).

 

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The former World Champion piggy-backed the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s (WTCC) Race of Belgium in his LADA Sport LUKOIL Granta TC1 and the ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours endurance classic with a Rotek Racing Audi TTRS Special.

In the end, the road mileage between the historic venues proved less challenging than the track miles as, after dashing across the Belgian-German border to partake in free practice, qualifying and races, mechanical issues on both racecars ultimately put paid to any chance of success.

Things at ‘The Ring’ were looking positive as Rotek Racing took an impressive SP4T class pole position and American teammate, Kevin Gleason, completed a successful first stint to retain the initiative and run comfortably inside the top 30 of the 170-car field.

As Gleason pushed on, Huff was en route from Spa-Francorchamps by road, complete with Eurosport cameraman to document his efforts for a future television feature.

Huff arrived to watch the early stages unfold and wait to take the wheel as the light started to fade over the Eifel Mountains, following stints from his three co-drivers, Gleason, former WTCC counterpart Darryl O’Young and British Touring Car newbie Robb Holland.

It was during team boss Holland’s run that the race began unravelling for Rotek Racing, as a mis-fuelling incident caused by a faulty rig left the striking Audi TTRS stranded out on track and resulted in a lengthy 35-minute delay.

Four laps down and 70th in the rankings, Huff took to the 14mile Nordschleife for a double stint.

The Newmarket racer backed up his World Champion status by turning some amazing lap times on par with much of the headlining GT3 entry and making up positions hand over fist, even after surviving a terrifying high-speed near-miss where an errant course car crossed his path while travelling in excess of 150mph

Huff stepped from the car and handed the reins to Gleason in 45th position as he sought some well-earned rest ahead of his second scheduled double stint at 5.00 before returning to the WTCC fray at Spa.

However, events superceded Rotek’s plan and, as dawn broke, so did the Audi TTRS, the engine expiring after 13 hours at racing speed.

Huff’s focus immediately turned to his regular ride with LADA Sport LUKOIL in the WTCC.

The 34-year old sat 12th on the grid – one place up from where he qualified, after Dusan Borkovic was penalised – at Spa for the start of Round 13 at 14.00 local time, prepared for nine laps of the daunting 7km-long circuit, which hosts the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix later this year.

Sadly, Huff’s fortunes didn’t improve, as a first-lap clash with the Ma Qing Hua’s Citroen C-Elysee pitched him into a gravelly slide and damaged a suspension component on his LADA Granta TC1.

Remarkably, Huff fought back from the tail end of the field to finish 16th and as the fastest of the LADA trio, even with deranged suspension.

Round 14 followed in quick succession, but the skilled LADA Sport LUKOIL mechanics worked their magic to repair the errant suspension and get the car to the grid in the short 15-minute repair window.

A frantic, wheel-banging first lap through the field saw LADA Sport LUKOIL’s young Russian, Mikhail Kozlovskiy, take the upper hand and a battling 13th place was all Huffy had to show for a long, tough weekend.

A weary Huff lamented the results, but enjoyed the journey, saying: “It’s not every weekend you can do something like this and in a way I suppose I am more disappointed that we didn’t manage a result at the Nordschlife, as it was definitely possible to win and I would have loved to step onto the podium with my teammates. The WTCC situation was largely expected. The LADA Granta TC1 was always going to be second best to the rest here and that’s the way it turned out.”

Rob Huff’s next outing will be in a spectacular Ford Mondeo Supertourer from the British Touring Car Championship’s heyday at the Silverstone Classic (25-27 July), before departing for Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship’s Race of Argentina on 2-3 August.


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