Race report: Victory in Vila Real as Huff wins WTCR's 100th race with perfectly timed Joker Lap

2022-07-03T22:57:41+02:00July 4th, 2022|WTCR Race of Portugal 2022|

Rob Huff made history at WTCR Race of Portugal in Vila Real this afternoon, winning the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup’s 100th race in dramatic fashion as the Joker Lap proved decisive in the outcome of both races on the iconic street track.

WTCR Race of Portugal, Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, July 1-3, 2022: Race report
WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, Rounds 9 and 10 of 20

WTCR Race of Portugal Race 1 classification (30 minutes + 1 lap)
1 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 32m55.515s (141.3kph)
2 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +0.264s
3 Néstor Girolami (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnuch Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, +5.236s
4 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +5.911s
5 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +6.651s
Fastest lap: Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 2m01.999s (141.3kph)

WTCR Race of Portugal Race 2 classification (25 minutes + 1 lap)
1 Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición, 34m41.616s (141.8kph)
2 Attila Tassi (HUN) LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR, +0.388s
3 Mikel Azcona (ESP), BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +0.935s
4 Yvan Muller (FRA), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +1,474s
5 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +2.644s
Fastest lap: Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición, 2m01.525s (141.8kph)

WTCR provisional standings after Round 10 of 20
Goodyear #FollowTheLeader: Mikel Azcona, 153 points
2 Santiago Urrutia, 137 points
3 Yann Ehrlacher, 133 points
4 Rob Huff, 130 points
5 Néstor Girolami, 113 points

Huff’s victory, in a Goodyear-equipped CUPRA Leon Competición, was the first for the Briton and his Hungarian Zengő Motorsport team this season and has also fired the renowned street racing expert into title contention. With eight races run in 2022, Huff is 23 points behind Mikel Azcona, the Goodyear #FollowTheLEader, and 36 points ahead in the WTCR Trophy for independent racers.

Honda-powered Attila Tassi hit back from a troubled start to his campaign with second place in Race 2 for LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler followed by Azcona (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse), who came through a fraught Race 1 in eighth place.

While Tassi registered his best result of 2022, team-mate and home hero Tiago Monteiro crashed out on lap two after he went off-line and collided with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport driver Esteban Guerrieri. Although the incident caused huge disappointment among the thousands of fans lining the ultra-demanding Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, the Portuguese driver was cheered onto the Race 2 podium.

Santiago Urrutia had earlier topped the Race 1 podium ahead of fellow Cyan Lynk & Co driver Yann Ehrlacher, the King of WTCR, albeit much to the Frenchman’s frustration. Néstor Girolami placed third in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR with Norbert Michelisz and Ma Qing Hua completing the top five.

Mehdi Bennani was the best of the Comtoyou Audi racers, the Moroccan taking seventh in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2.

RACE 1 REPORT:  URRUTIA LEADS EHRLACHER IN LYNK & CO-POWERED 1-2 FOLLOWING ACTION-PACKED VILA REAL COUNTER
Santiago Urrutia headed Yann Ehrlacher to a Lynk & Co-powered Cyan 1-2 in a frenetic Race 1. Cyan Performance driver Urrutia scored his second WTCR win of the season after leading away from pole. Ehrlacher got ahead of the Uruguayan through the use of the Joker Lap, the alternative route unique to Vila Real, but Urrutia regained the place when the King of WTCR obeyed a team order to hand the position back. Néstor Girolami completed the podium for ALL.INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport with Zengő Motorsport’s Rob Huff taking the WTCR Trophy honours. CLICK FOR FULL RACE REPORT.

RACE 2 REPORT: HUFF MAKES HISTORY BY WINNING WTCR’S 100TH RACE IN VILA REAL
Rob Huff claimed a sensational first victory of the season to win the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup’s 100th race. The success, which owed plenty to his Joker Lap strategy, also marked the first of the year for Zengő Motorsport and its Goodyear-equipped CUPRA Leon Competición, as Huff rose from fourth on the grid to send the Hungarian team into raptures at the demanding street circuit. Yvan Muller was leading but outbraked himself on the approach to the Joker Lap, ran wide and disastrously dropped from first to fourth leaving Attila Tassi to finish second ahead of Mikel Azcona, who remains the Goodyear #FollowTheleader. CLICK FOR FULL RACE REPORT.

RACE WINNER QUOTES

RACE 1: Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
“Yann and I had the pace and we were controlling the race. I said at the beginning before the race there was a strategy to follow, these were really good points as well for the Teams’ [title] and for the Drivers’ [title] and it worked out really well. Thank you to Cyan, thank you to Yann and everyone. We did the job, we finished as we started, P1 and P2, so I’m very happy for the team. I think the strategy worked out very well. We had a clean start, we kept the positions and then we ended up finishing the race in P1 and P2, so it was the biggest points for the team. The strategy worked out very well, so thank you to Yann and Cyan. It was good points in the bag. Yesterday we collected the biggest in qualifying, being P1 and P2, and now P1 and P2 in the race. So I’m very happy for the team because we did it in the right way.”

RACE 2: Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición
“It was so hot in the cars and of course huge stress leading the race. This race, a lot of it comes down to strategy and this weekend we have had our problems with the strategy, in the sense that from Turn 6 to Turn 22 we have no radio signal and of course it makes it very difficult to find information which you desperately need. We set it up so every time out of Turn 22 I got information. The decision when to take the Joker was obviously an amazing call by the team, my engineer and all the guys. Ultimately we had no option other than to leave it as late as possible. The lap the first safety car came out was when I was going to Joker. I had a gap to Norbi behind which was safe enough for me to do it. And then the safety car came. Strangely Yvan a lap or two after the safety car decided to do the Joker which I thought was a bit strange because he was pulling away a bit. Then Mikel decided to go and Attila decided to go and it was just clean air for me. As soon as I got in the lead immediately I could go half a second, a second a lap quicker. The car was amazing and then the strategy is leave it as long as possible. I wanted to do it the lap before when we had a 2.4s gap. The team said no, the next lap because you are making it easier on yourself, then you can take the Joker easier. In the end I did an almighty joker lap and a big push lap gained another second on that lap, almost completely outbraked myself at the Joker with excitement and then obviously the next lap there was a safety car, so we hit the jackpot on when to do it. The next thing I know the chequered flag is coming out. It was just amazing.”

WHAT’S NEXT?
Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2022 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup take place at Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi near Rome, Italy, from July 22-24. Click HERE for more information.