WTCR Race 2 flash: Huff wins reverse-grid thriller
Rob Huff beat DHL Pole Position starter Pepe Oriola to win the reverse-grid Race 2 at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO put on another great show at Suzuka.
Huff’s Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR eased inside Oriola’s Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra TCR at Turn 1 after the start to claim a lead he would not lose.
“Congratulations to Sébastien Loeb Racing, the car was amazing,” said Huff after his second victory of the season. “We really found the sweet spot. I’m so pleased for the team. It’s amazing with [team-mate] Mehdi [Bennani] winning last time out, too.
“I’m pleased to be finishing the season in the way we should have been racing in the middle of the season. It’s been tough.”
Oriola was disappointed to lose out at the start, but took some satisfaction with a second place finish. “I did a really good start, but Rob did an amazing start,” he said.
Huff’s start might have won him the race, but he still had plenty to do to protect his lead in the early stages. The safety car was called upon almost immediately after Bennani made contact with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri at the esses. The Honda Civic Type R TCR speared into the barriers at speed.
When the race restarted on lap three, Oriola put pressure on Huff, but the Briton managed to ease away as the race progressed to win by 1.444s. Oriola then withstood the attentions of Norbert Michelisz’s BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR, which had passed Denis Dupont’s Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS 3 LMS at the chicane at the end of lap three. Michelisz chased Oriola hard all the way to the flag, but had to settle for third, complaining afterwards of excessive tyre wear.
Dupont lost three further places on lap eight of 10, as first Comtoyou Racing team-mate Aurélien Panis made a decisive move for fourth, then Gabriele Tarquini and Race 1 winner Kevin Ceccon also slipped past the Belgian federation-backed driver. Tarquini’s fifth place edged him back into the lead of the WTCR OSCARO points standings, with Yvan Muller – who was equal on points with the Italian after Race 1 – just out of the scoring positions this time in P11.
Behind Ceccon and Dupont, DG Sport Compétition’s Aurélien Comte claimed eighth in his PEUGEOT 308TCR ahead of Bennani and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher, who just finished ahead of his uncle Muller to complete the top 10.
Audi Sport Team Comtoyou’s Frédéric Vervisch finished in P12, ahead of Thed Björk and Jean-Karl Vernay, while comeback hero Tiago Monteiro repeated his result from Race 1 with another P15 in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda.
Race 3 of WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan takes place at 12h30 local time.