Rob Huff believes he has the best car at his disposal for two years despite a promising WTCC opening weekend ending in disappointment.
The Red Lodge-based ace enjoyed his first outing in the all new Lada Vesta as the 2015 World Touring Car Championship commenced at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina.
Free practice and the first round of qualifying quickly demonstrated why the former world champion had high expectations ahead of the campaign, as the 35-year-old set the quickest time.
But despite promising signs in the second round of qualifying, with Huff three tenths up on his previous lap, his fortune quickly turned following the disruption of the red flag following an incident involving Mehdi Bennani.
And while awaiting the restart, his car developed a misfire to leave the Lada Sport Rosneft-backed racer in 11th for both races.
“This is the best I have felt about a WTCC touring car in two years,” said Huff following the topsy-turvy qualifying sessions. “We know we’re not expecting to be in it to win it this year, but there is a lot of desire here from myself and the team at Lada Sport Rosneft from the top to the bottom of the organisation.
“We have started well so let’s see what we can achieve.”
However, his renewed optimism would not be brought to fruition as his misfortune was not complete for the weekend with the races themselves proving another frustrating afternoon for all concerned.
Having battled his way through the field during the first race, Huff found himself in sixth position on lap four before being reacquainted with Moroccan Bennani.
Huff was battling for positions when Bennani attempted to pass at turn seven.
The pair made contact with Bennani striking the right rear corner of Huff’s car, damaging the LADA’s suspension in the process.
And while Huff limped back to the pits following a spin, Bennani raced on only to receive a drive-through penalty for the incident and dropped back to 13th at the finish.
To make matters worse, Huff’s misery was compounded further as he could only muster two laps of the second race before retiring due to the damage caused.
Despite enduring a difficult first round, Huff has high expectations for the season which resumes in Morocco on April 19.
“The expectations are now higher and from being happy to make up the numbers on the grid, the team have been shown we can compete against the best,” added Huff. “This year has been set out as another development season, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the championship in the near future.
“We have come on in leaps and bounds and I’m full of confidence for the coming season.”