With two victories to his name and third position in the final standings - top non-SEAT driver - meaning he took over Andy Priaulx's mantle as leading British representative, 2008 was truly a breakthrough season for Rob Huff in the World Touring Car Championship. Now, he makes clear, he wants to 'keep the ball rolling' in 2009 as he aims to finish two spots higher still.

Huff entered the campaign as, in many observers' eyes, the least-fancied of the three Chevrolet drivers, with his team-mates Alain Menu and Nicola Larini boasting between them two British Touring Car Championship crowns and title success in both the DTM and Italian Touring Car Series.

Moreover, there would be no points from the opening four races of 2008 at Curitiba in Brazil and Puebla in Mexico, but when the 29-year-old did open his account - at Valencia in May - he did so in style, with victory in race one and a strong second place from eighth on the grid in race two.

His season had suddenly been kick-started, and with a further four rostrums and twelve top five finishes from the remaining 18 outings - including a somewhat fortuitous and opportunistic triumph in the Macau finale in November - the former SEAT Cupra Cup UK Champion would go on to end proceedings just one point shy of the silver medal in the championship chase, and 33 and 39 markers clear respectively of Menu and Larini. Point made - with interest.

"I was very happy," he reflected, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. "That was all I could ask for really. The first thing you obviously want to do is beat your team-mates, the second thing is be the best driver of your nation and we managed both, so I was very, very happy with that.

"It was a really tough year; the diesels were ever-so strong, and it was looking at one point - certainly early on in the season - that they were going to wipe the floor with everyone. I think with Yvan [Muller] winning it by pretty much three race wins, points-wise they did wipe the floor with everyone, but we just managed to keep consistent, score good points at almost every meeting and finish on a real high in Macau by winning the last race. We secured third in the championship, top Brit, and we just want to keep the ball rolling now."

There were inevitably peaks and troughs along the way, with a certain victory on home turf at Brands Hatch being snatched away from him by a puncture, but on the whole it was, as the erstwhile BTCC ace acknowledges, 'a cracking year'.

Moreover, having spent the past two seasons somewhat in the shadow of his illustrious team-mates, Huff finally emerged as a star in his own right in 2008, never once missing the top ten on the starting grid and proving that he is every bit a match for two former champions - maybe even a champion himself in 2009...

"I think Valencia, the third round of the year, where we came away with 18 points," he replied, when asked about his 2008 highlights. "Chevrolet wiped the floor with everyone that weekend, I think predominantly down to the fact that we had the lightest cars on the grid because the three of us hadn't scored any points [up until then]. I obviously won the first race and came from eighth to second in the second race, and Alain won the second race. That was a fantastic weekend.

"Brands Hatch, by contrast, was a bit of a kick - we were leading with a lap-and-a-half to go and got a puncture - but then we picked it back up again in Macau at the end of the year by coming from fourth with two laps to go to win it on the last lap. That's the swings-and-roundabouts of motorsport and the ups-and-downs, and you've got to live on the ups as much as you can and try to forget the downs.

"When you look at it, I had [Jason] Plato as my first-ever team-mate (in touring cars) and obviously Alain and Nicola as my other two team-mates, and I've learned a hell of a lot. I'm a true believer that if you're going to do something, [you should] throw yourself in at the deep end - and I certainly did that! To come out on top of them, though, was great - to say that I beat those guys fair-and-square in equal machinery.

"Don't get me wrong, Alain had some bad luck, I had some bad luck, but pace-for-pace we were always within about a tenth of each other all year in qualifying and the races. To be able to mix it with these guys is still a bit of a dream for me, and to say that I beat them is pretty unreal.

"A lot of it, as we know, in motorsport, is down to luck; we had some bad luck to start with in 2008, but it came good in the end and rather than going up and down the chart of good luck and bad luck, I just want to keep it monotone across the board really!

"Last year was a cracking year, mainly down to RML preparing a great car and Chevrolet obviously providing the car for us. Hopefully we can prove the new car to be even better and a stronger force to be reckoned with. I want to score consistently all year and be in with a chance of winning the championship when we go to Macau at the end of it.

"I've established a good name for myself and established that I'm capable of mixing it with the top boys and of being consistent and potentially a champion, so I just want to keep that going - and I think with the new car we can do that."




Loading Comments...