Rob Huff became an eight-time Macau Grand Prix victor on his TCR International Series debut, setting a new record as the most successful car driver on the Circuito da Guia street track (19-22 November).
Huff, who races full-time for the LADA SPORT ROSNEFT team in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, is unable to resist the lure of Macau and saw an opportunity to extend his remarkable wins tally with one of four WestCoast Racing Honda Civics in the Suncity Group 62nd Macau Grand Prix.
The former World Champion was more than satisfied with his JAS Motorsport-built Honda’s handling and performance from the outset of the four-day event and set out his stall early by going fastest overall in both free practice sessions with a convincing margin over all of his opponents.
Clinching pole position with an astonishing lap of 2m31.522s only reinforced his ‘Master of Macau’ status and he said: “WestCoast Racing, JAS Motorsport and I did a good job together. It’s never easy to jump into a new championship in the last race, not knowing the car and the team, but progress was good, the car had a nice balance and was easy to drive.
“I didn’t push in Q1 and I knew there was a lot of time to come from the car. I pushed on the first run in the second part of qualifying and set a time that was good enough for pole position, knowing there was still more to extract, so I went again with fresh front tyres and improved further.”
Sunday (22 November) began with a qualification race to determine the starting positions for the second Macau Guia Race 2.0T encounter and Huff produced a controlled lights-to-flag victory after a tense opening lap that saw him go three-abreast with eventual TCR Champion Stefano Comini and Jordi Gene into the first pinch point at Lisboa Bend.
The final round of the 2015 TCR International Series followed a short 15-minute interval and pole position was Huff’s once again.
However, an over-zealous Gene made contact with the British ace at the first kink and both clattered the barriersat high speed to set off a spectacular and dramatic multi-car pileup that left the track blocked and the field depleted.
Gene received a post-race fine for causing the incident, but, understandably riled by his opponent’s actions, Huff was still delighted to have notched up an record-equalling eighth Macau victory and become the most successful car driver ever at Circuito da Guia.
“Firstly, I have to thank my long-term sponsors AG Group and OCC LASIK, as well as JAS Motorsport and WestCoast Racing,” said Huff. “What happened in race two was a shame, but I’ve come back to Macau and won again. It’s fantastic to be the most successful car driver in Macau – it’s something I’ll gladly take away with me and I certainly plan on coming back for a ninth! I had everything under control and was driving well within myself throughout, just focusing on managing the gap and bringing the car home in one piece.
“At the start of race two, Jordi Gene was alongside me and didn’t seem to want to turn for the corner and, of course, the entire field was behind us with nowhere to go when we hit the barriers and several cars were taken out of the running. There were some sizeable impacts and I’ll certainly feel it in the morning! Ultimately, it was stupid of Gene to do that, because I’m only here to win two races. I won one, the weekend went very well and I think the TCR International Series is a great feeder series to the pinnacle of touring car racing.”