Rob Huff had a ‘rollercoaster’ but ultimately record-breaking weekend at the latest round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, at the Macau Grand Prix.
The Newmarket driver dominated the one-lap qualifying shootout to smash three-time champion José María López’s record from 2014, taking pole position with a time of two minutes and 23.995 seconds — the first and only sub 2.24 lap for a front-wheel drive car around the Chinese circuit.
In the reverse grid first race, Huff started from ninth and was one of the few drivers to make any progress in the race, making his way up to seventh and setting a new race lap record, beating his own record from 2014 by six-tenths of a second with a time of 2.26.469.
However, there was disaster with two laps to go when fifth-placed Norbert Michelisz crashed his Honda right in front of Huff at the Police bend. The following three cars were unable to avoid the Hungarian and piled into him. All cars suffered significant damage and it wasn’t clear whether they could be repaired for the next day’s main race.
It seemed the weekend was over for Huff, but the German team worked all night to repair the C-Elysée WTCC, with the car firing up in the early hours of the morning and ready to race.
There was still more drama to come, as rain then hit the street circuit in the morning, meaning a wet race for one of the most challenging events in motorsport.
Huff made the most of his pole, and held off an early challenge from Michelisz’s Honda on the first lap, before pulling out an eight-second lead to win the race, his ninth at Macau, and more than any other driver or rider has accomplished at the daunting track in the circuit’s 64-year history.
The win puts Huff in eighth place in the WTCC standings ahead of the final round, the Race of Qatar.
“To get nine wins at one circuit is pretty amazing, to get nine wins at Macau of all places is very special, and I owe it all to the team,” he said.
“It’s been an amazing weekend, and a typical Macau rollercoaster, up on Friday, and then on Saturday we didn’t even if we know we’d make the race on Sunday, and then to win today is just a monumental result, so a huge thanks and praise to everyone involved, to René (Münnich) and the boys in the team.”
It continued a great visit to China for Huff, who won in Wuhan to take the lead in the China Touring Car Championships heading into the final round, which takes place in Shanghai this weekend.