RML Wins Again!
Huff Scores Historic Come-From-Behind Win: From 24th To 1st
Chevrolet driver Rob Huff scored his maiden WTCC win in Brno, today, having started in 24th position on the grid. Never before in the history of the World Touring Car Championship did a winning driver start further back. Huff's and Chevrolet's supremacy on this track were further emphasized by Alain Menu finishing in seveth in race one, and Nicola Larini finishing in seventh in race two, having started 25th on the grid.
Chevrolet Europe's Executive Director, Wayne Brannon, was attending the race in Brno and was extremely pleased with the result. Incidentally, he also attended the race at Brands Hatch, where Alain Menu scored Chevrolet's first ever win earlier this year. "Rob fighting back from near last first shows the spirit of the people at Chevrolet, and the brand as a whole," he said. "Winning here is a testament to the determination and capabilities of the brand. Rob Huff today did exactly what we at Chevrolet believe we can do and mirrors the success we have in the market place. Racing is, after all, part of Chevrolet's heritage simply because we are not afraid to go out and compete with our direct competitors."
At the end of the qualifying proceedings yesterday, both Huff and Larini were put to the back on the grid as a result of a double penalty for overtaking under waved yellow flags in qualifying and for having changed the engine. But Huff was quietly confident that he could finish in the points regardless, knowing what few other people knew before the race: "On my fastest qualifying lap, I did lift for the yellows and lost some two tenths in that sector," he said. "The telemetry clearly shows it, so without that yellow I would have qualified on the first row without a problem. Our car is just that good here."
All three Chevrolet drivers took blinding starts, with Alain moving up to sixth (from ninth on the grid), Nicola going up to 14th (from 27th) and Rob crossing the finish line in 15th (from 24th) after the first lap. While Alain kept the other contenders strategically behind him, Rob slowly crept up the leader board. Twelfth by lap 3, 11th by lap 6 and 8th by lap 8. Huff stayed in eighth until the finish -- good for pole position spot in race two -- while Menu let Coronel by at the very end of the race, thus finishing in seventh and being guaranteed a spot on the grid alongside Huff on row one.
With a first all-Chevrolet front row, there were only happy faces in the pits at the finish of the first race. "It all came together nicely, didn't it," an elated Huff said. "The car was very good, the grip was good; I had some understeer but not too bad. Our car seems to like this track with its flowing line. Of course we were helped in the uphill part by the fact that we weren't carrying any extra weight, but nevertheless I think my car was one of the best out there today. From the word go I could just pick them off one by one quite easily. Turn 10 seemed to be my favourite as I passed most cars there. I have to thank the boys at RML for having built me a super car."
Menu had an excellent race as well: "I got hit by a BMW at the start which gave the car some understeer, but other than that it all worked out fine. In the first half of the race it was difficult to keep the others behind me, but in the second part the car worked better. I deliberately let Coronel by on the last lap in order to drop a place and finish in seventh, good for a first row starting position in race two."
Nicola Larini's race was maybe not as successful as that of the other two Chevrolet drivers, but he also made up sixteen places. "My race was pretty good until one of the SEATs pushed me wide while I was passing him. Rob then passed us both, while I nearly spun. Then I lost at least four seconds behind one of the Hondas which ultimately cost me a potential ninth place finish."
In race two, Huff did what he set out to do: take a solid start and lead from green lights to finish flag, despite the constant pressure of reigning World Champion, Andy Priaulx. Menu dropped a place at the start, but got sideswiped off the track and out of the race by Jorg Muller. Nicola Larini, meanwhile, made up lost ground to finish in seventh.
The next stop of the 2006 WTCC is at Istanbul on 24th September.