Sochi WTCR: Huff becomes 12th race winner in season finale
Rob Huff scored his first World Touring Car Cup victory of the season and became the 12th winner in 16 races in a thrilling wet-weather finale at Sochi.
The Briton came from sixth on the grid to win in his Zengo Motorsport Cupra, as two safety car interruptions broke up an incident-filled conclusion to the season.
The first intervention followed directly from the start when Gilles Magnus and Attila Tassi made contact off the line, the former’s Audi left stranded on the track.
Racing was due to resume on lap four, but then pole position starter Yvan Muller slammed into the back of leader and race one winner Mikel Azcona at the penultimate corner as the safety car returned to the pits. The impact left both out of the race.
"I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry,” said a contrite Muller.
Azcona was furious: “The car is totally destroyed. “I don’t understand how it’s possible for a driver like Yvan Muller with such experience to do this. Very disappointing from him. He totally destroyed my race, so thank you very much.”
As Nestor Girolami led the restart, Cupra driver Bence Boldizs and Lada local entry Kirill Ladygin collided at Turn 3, the Hungarian walking away from a big impact which once again neutralised the race.
When the action finally got under way on lap seven, Huff chased down Girolami and took the lead with a fine move at Turn 13. He then stretched a gap to win from Vervisch, who passed Girolami on lap 10 and secured second in the points standings behind new champion Ehrlacher.
“We deserved that after the year we’ve had, with seven DNFs,” said a delighted Huff. “What a way to go out at the end of the season. And we had a misfire, but still pulled it off. Absolutely brilliant.”
Nathanael Berthon completed the podium, while Tassi survived his start clash with Magnus to finish fourth from 12th on the grid. Jean-Karl Vernay was fifth, with Ehrlacher – who had wrapped up his second consecutive WTCR title in race one – scoring his second sixth place of the day.
Gabriele Tarquini’s WTCR career ended in disappointment. The 59-year-old Italian, who has announced his retirement, started 15th and ran into the back of fellow veteran Jordi Gene on lap eight. Heavy front-end damage forced Tarquini out of the race.
|1||79|| Rob Huff ||CUPRA|
|2||22|| Frederic Vervisch ||Audi||4.563|
|3||17|| Nathanael Berthon ||Audi||5.643|
|4||9|| Attila Tassi ||Honda||7.493|
|5||69|| Jean-Karl Vernay ||Hyundai||9.291|
|6||68|| Yann Ehrlacher ||Lynk & Co||9.600|
|7||29|| Nestor Girolami ||Honda||12.944|
|8||5|| Norbert Michelisz ||Hyundai||14.070|
|9||32|| Tom Coronel ||Audi||16.551|
|10||8|| Luca Engstler ||Hyundai||17.868|
|11||11|| Thed Björk ||Lynk & Co||18.421|
|12||28|| Jordi Gene ||CUPRA||30.463|
|13||20|| Kirill Ladygin ||LADA||37.541|
|14||30|| Mikhail Mityaev ||LADA||42.790|
|3|| Gabriele Tarquini ||Hyundai|
|96|| Mikel Azcona ||CUPRA|
|55|| Bence Boldizs ||CUPRA|
|100|| Yvan Muller ||Lynk & Co|
|12|| Santiago Urrutia ||Lynk & Co|
|16|| Gilles Magnus ||Audi|
|86|| Esteban Guerrieri ||Honda|
|View full results|
Rob Huff, Zengo Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición
Photo by: WTCR
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