Rob Huff scored his seventh podium result of the season when he finished 3rd in Round 19 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Imola. He was then denied the chance of another top finish in the second race, when he was pushed out of contention at the end of the opening lap, having already moved from 6th to 4th place.

It was the first time the Chevrolet team had run its new Cruze WTCC race car at the famous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari near Bologna in Italy, and Rob used the free practice sessions to set the car up. His was no easy feat, as the three mile track contains a mixture of flat-out high-speed sections and slower technical turns, making the perfect technically set-up extremely difficult to find.

Rob qualified as top non-SEAT driver, just half a second behind pole-sitter Gabriele Tarquini. He got through Q1 inside the top 10, despite his best lap being ruined when Andrea Larini (SEAT) went off at the Acque Minerali and caused a red flag. The tactic of slip-streaming with his Chevrolet team-mates worked well, and whilst no other cars were able to match the pace of the dominant diesel-engined Leons, Rob’s 4th best time in Q2 put him in an excellent position for the start of Race 1 the following day.

From the inside of Row 2, Rob made a great rolling start as Round 19 got underway in dry and sunny conditions. He was up to 3rd by the Tamburello chicane, but under braking Rob was hit hard from behind by Jordi Gené. The rear of Rob’s Chevrolet was pushed high into the air and the front rammed into the back of Tarquini’s Leon, but the 29-year old Cambridgeshire driver maintained control brilliantly and continued in 3rd place. Behind, Gené spun across the track and sent a wave of contact down the field, which resulted in the end of the race for several drivers and the deployment of the Safety Car for the debris to be cleared.

Once the race re-started, Rob drove well to keep in touch with the two Leons of Tarquini and Yvan Muller ahead, but unable to get close enough to them to mount a challenge, finished an excellent 3rd.

With the top eight starting the second race in reverse order, Rob lined up 6th on the grid for Round 20 – taking the inside position on Row 3 this time. A fantastic standing start saw him move up two places to arrive at Tamburello in 4th position. Exiting the Rivazza corner on the opening lap, Rob was hit by Tarquini and pushed into the gravel on the outside of the last corner. He regained the track, only for more contact and another trip through a gravel trap a few corners later. Now in last place, Rob pushed hard and worked his way up to 17th by the chequered flag.

Imola marks the end of the European races in this year’s WTCC. Rob’s car now goes directly to Okayama in Japan for the penultimate race meeting (1st November), and it won’t return to the RML team workshop in Wellingborough until after the final rounds of the series in Macau (22nd November).

“It was a very good team effort at Imola and we scored some good points, so we can be happy,” said Rob. “Having never driven the Chevrolet Cruze at the circuit before, we certainly achieved the best we could in terms of performance and set-up and made the most of the race day conditions.”

“Race 1 was good. I had a good start and good pace and it was nice to finish on the podium. In Race 2, I was hit at the end of the first lap and went into the gravel, losing many positions, and then I was hit again by a couple of privateers shortly after. That was a shame, because it dropped us down towards the back of the field.

“We had the pace to score two podium results at Imola and if we’d done that, we’d be two places higher up in the drivers’ standings right now.”