Rob Huff faces fighting through the pain barrier in his attempt to claim a maiden World Touring Car Championship drivers’ title on Sunday.
Despite heading into the final two rounds of the championship in Macau with a 35-point lead at the top of the standings from Chevrolet team-mate Alain Menu, the Red Lodge racer will be forced to drive out of his comfort zone after partially slipping a disc in his back.
He suffered the damage in a freak accident at the gym.
“I had just finished my usual routine at the gym and I then slipped in the shower,” said Huff. “Having spoken to a medic, they think I have semi-slipped a disc in my back.
“The pain is unreal, and I have never experienced anything like this before, but there is no way I will not be getting behind the wheel of my Chevrolet.
“I have been taking it easy and have taken all the painkillers I am allowed to take, but if needs be I will have a cortisone injection out at the track to ease the pain.”
Thirty-two-year-old Huff takes a commanding lead into the final two rounds of the series having picked up a race win and a second-place finish last time out in Shanghai.
Although Huff enjoyed one of his most successful meetings this season in China, the same could not be said for championship Yvan Muller who left empty handed after suffering a crash in round 21 before being disqualified by the stewards in round 22 after shunting into team-mate Menu.
As a result of Muller’s no-show, it has seen Menu become Huff’s main challenger with the Swiss star replacing Muller in second place.
“We did have some luck with Yvan suffering a broken suspension, which was no fault of his own in round 21, but Yvan’s punt on Alain was his own doing,” said Huff. “In the end it worked out beautifully for me.
“Ideally I wanted to head to Macau a few points in front, but I would have been happy going there level.
“To be going there with a 35-point lead at the top has put me in the best position I have ever been in.”
In recent seasons the tight, twisty Asian street circuit has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Huff having won five out of the last eight races there.
Despite boasting an enviable record around the six-kilometre track, Huff is not taking anything for granted.
“I am very confident and feel comfortable around Macau, but as Yvan showed in Shanghai last time out anything can happen and probably will,” said Huff.
“I won’t be doing anything different this weekend as I would like to get the championship won in the opening race as the second race will be the trickier one of the two.
“The aim will be to put it on pole and then try and get a podium finish in race one.
“If I can get pole and finish third it would not matter if Alain won both races as it would still crown me champion.”
Should Huff go on and take his maiden crown it be a fitting end to his eight-year association with Chevrolet after the team announced that it would not be running a team in the WTCC in 2013.
“Eight years ago, Chevrolet took a gamble on me as an inexperienced driver and now I have the chance to show they were right in giving me a chance,” said Huff.
“If I do win the championship it really would be the icing on the cake and a fairytale ending to what has been the most amazing eight years.”