Rob Huff scores pole and a podium in season opener
Teamwork Motorsport had a strong opening weekend for its TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship campaign at the Sepang Circuit, with touring car superstar Rob Huff securing pole position and following that up with a podium result.
Huff saved his ultimate pace until qualifying, when he blew the competition away, becoming the only driver to set a lap time under 2:16 at the circuit over the weekend in his Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI TCR.
On race day, Huff lined up on pole position, but was beaten into the first corner by the fast-starting Hyundai of Luca Engstler. The two then enjoyed a race-long battle, with a thrilling side-by-side moment on lap nine when Huff nearly got ahead of his German rival, but 2018 Asian champion Engstler was able to hold on, while Huff scored a well-fought second place.
In the three-hour gap between Race 1 and 2, the heavens opened and deluged the circuit.
The conditions were too bad to start the race on time, and the start was delayed for over an hour while the officials waited for the rain to abate.
The race eventually started at 17:15 local time, and when the safety car pulled in, Huff was quickly up two places from his seventh position on the reversed grid, but was unable to progress any further due a handling issue with the car, which saw him continue on to finish in fifth position.
Overall, it was an encouraging start to Teamwork Motorsport's TCR Malaysia championship campaign.
Rob Huff said:
"It's been a great weekend, and obviously a learning one for me as well as I've never raced here before, while Luca has.
"The car was terrific. We kept our new tyres for qualifying so I knew we had the pace already, and to put it on pole position for the guys, and be over a second clear in Q1 was an awesome end to a very long Saturday, with qualifying at 8pm and at night.
"Our race day wasn't quite as perfect. The Balance of Performance hasn't changed since last year, and we're also running 20kg heavier as I'm only doing this race, so the Hyundai getting ahead wasn't a surprise. It's a tough circuit to pass on, but we made a good go of it and got our nose slightly ahead at one point but it was important to finish the race and not risk an accident.
"Race 2, I've not seen weather like that since maybe China two years ago. It was the right call to not start the race when we were supposed to. Unfortunately for us, the pace in the car wasn't quite there - we'd had no wet running of course, so it was a gamble to get the set-up right, and we slightly missed it, so we had to settle for fifth.
"All in all, it's been a good weekend, and great fun to race with the Teamwork Motorsport team, and I can't wait to be back here in December with the FIA WTCR / Oscaro - World Touring Car Cup for our season finale."
Huff's deal with the team was for only the first race, and the team has a driver in-place for the season finale next month as well which will be announced at a later date.
The team are still talking with and reaching out for interested drivers to take part in the second round of the championship, which is again at Sepang, which takes place next weekend.