The former World Champion has had a season of ups and downs since joining the LADA Sport fold.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) rolls on to world-renowned Suzuka circuit in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, for the penultimate round of the 2014 season (25-26 October), and Briton’s Rob Huff believes points finishes are on the cards for his LADA Sport team.
The former World Champion has had a season of ups and downs since joining the LADA Sport fold. However, an immense push by the Russian manufacturer team and its trio of drivers – Huff, James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy – has resulted in a significant upturn in fortunes.
While it was once a struggle to break into the top ten, a methodical development programme has yielded an indisputable hike in performance to make LADA Sport a consistent threat to the Chevrolet, Honda and Citroen contingents for points finishes.
Superb drives by Huffy in recent rounds have gone a long way to boosting team morale, as the Iconic Bet-backed Briton wangled a podium finish on Argentine soil before taking LADA Sport to its maiden WTCC victory at the beginning of the Asian leg of the season at Beijing’s Goldenport Park Circuit earlier this month.
After three years of racing on Suzuka’s shortened 2.2km ‘East’ configuration, which provided very few overtaking opportunities, the WTCC takes to the full 5.8km Suzuka International Circuit used for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix for the very first time this weekend.
With the sweet taste of success still fresh, Huff goes to Japan for the penultimate round of the WTCC season keen to emulate recent results before season’s end on the streets of Macau.
But while the Newmarket-domiciled racer is relishing the opportunity of racing on the full-length Suzuka circuit, featuring famous corners such as the Degner turns, Spoon Curve and the fabled 130R, he believes more strong points finishes are a realistic target on a track that places the emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency.
Huff said: “I cannot wait to get out on the Suzuka International Circuit, as it’s a legendary racetrack with lots of iconic corners, including the two Degner turns, Spoon Curve and the flat out 130R! It really is a magical place and the show will be much better on the longer Grand Prix layout, although I’m not expecting it to play to the advantage of my LADA Sport team, as the lengthy straights and long corners mean it’s all about aerodynamics and having a high top end.
“Qualifying won’t be as essential as it once was at Suzuka. Being so short, tight and twisty, the Suzuka East Circuit was one place where you really needed to get your act together quickly. Three tenths of a second would be the difference between lining-up in fifth or 15th on the grid and, as overtaking is almost impossible, you could pretty much write off your weekend if you didn’t get up near the sharp end. I’m hoping for better fortunes that I had in Shanghai and to break into the top ten, with the view of nabbing the reversed grid pole position. We’ve already seen what can be achieved and I want to taste more success."
Qualifying for Rounds 21 and 22 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is scheduled to take place from 8.30 (CET) on Saturday (25 October), with the races on Sunday (26 October) at 6.15 and 8.15 (CET).