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Huff hails BTCC and its fans on trophied return

Rob Huff was humbled after the fans’ response to his return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend at Silverstone, where he secured a season’s best result for Power Maxed Racing with second in race three.

Huff was deputising for his World Touring Car Championship friend and rival Tom Chilton, and so, the Cambridge-based driver was forced into carrying the extra penalty of 45kg of ballast over the weekend as a substitute. He qualified down in 28th spot and was hoping for better on Sunday.

Huff made swift progress in his first BTCC race since 2004 – driving through to 16th position, placing himself well for the second race of the day. 

He managed to work his way well into the points-paying positions and eighth through that encounter – leaving him in with a shout of reversed-grid fortune. The stars aligned, and the 2012 WTCC drivers’ champion found himself on the front row for the final race of the day.

Huff launched the Vauxhall Astra off the line and straight into the lead past pole-sitter Dave Newsham’s BTC Norlin Racing Chevrolet. From there, he started to build a comfortable lead, but with the safety car deployed on lap three, the gap Huff had built was immediately wiped out.

The 37-year-old, racing car #37, then valiantly held off a charge from leading Independents’ driver Tom Ingram, but found himself with triple BTCC champion Matt Neal’s Honda on his tail – a sight nobody would like to see in their mirrors.

He held on stoically until Neal made his move with just four laps to go. Second place, though, was enough to secure the team’s best result of the season at the home of British motor racing.

“I had no real expectations this weekend after qualifying 28th and I never thought we’d get a podium from there,” said Huff. “I just stayed out of trouble in the first two races and got the car up the sharp end of the grid.

“I had a fantastic start, and before the safety car came out, I thought we had it all done, but unfortunately it took my lead away. But even then, when Matt (Neal) got behind me, for five or six laps I thought I could probably still win the race, but he just sneaked up the inside of me.

“Power Maxed Racing gave me a great car this weekend, and in every session we went forward and further forward. The set-up that I created at the end was on (team-mate) Senna (Proctor)’s car as well, and he charged from the back with that and got the fastest lap.

“It’s nice to be able to give the team a podium, take the team in a new direction with the car that they can go forward with and utilise.

“The reception from the fans has also been brilliant. The fans are what make the championship – you can have any championship in the world with any cars you like, and the racing can be as close as you like, but if you haven’t got the fans, you haven’t got a championship.

“I’ve been away for 14 years, and they’ve remembered me, followed me and welcomed me back like I’ve never been welcomed before, and to have that kind of response is very humbling.

“What a team these guys are and it’s great to be here in front of some great fans. I really want to get myself back into the BTCC – it’s been a great weekend.”

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