Photo: SVW333 Racing

Rob Huff wins accident-shortened first race at Shanghai

Rob Huff took his third win from three starts in the 2018 China Touring Car Championship, leading the way from pole position in his SAIC Volkswagen 333 Racing Lamando GTS, in a race which finished behind the safety car.

Huff held the lead from pole position ahead of his new SAIC Volkswagen team-mate Ma Qing Hua, with Adam Morgan close behind in the BAIC Senova D50.

Morgan was able to pass Ma’s Volkswagen at the end of the back straight on lap two, while the top four, which included Martin Cao’s Changan Ford FRD Team Focus, began to breakaway from the chasing Ford of Rainey He and the two Senovas of David Zhu and Juan Carlos Zhu.

Championship leader Leo Yi had made a good start and was up to ninth in the first laps, but the heavily-ballasted Kia struggled for pace, and he was passed by Zhang Zhen Dong’s Volkswagen at Turn 14, and then handed tenth to his Kia team-mate Alex Fontana on lap four.

Juan Carlos Zhu also passed team-mate David Zhu on the fourth lap, and set about chasing the Ford of Rainey He, where the race-ending moment occurred on the end of lap five.

Zhu tried to battle past He at the final corner, forcing the Ford Focus off wide as he cut across his nose, and then two then made further contact as He forced himself back on track, spinning Zhu around and into the barriers.

The race was suspended for three laps behind the safety car, with no effort made to recover Zhu’s car, handing Huff an easy win ahead of Morgan and Ma.

Martin Cao was the best-placed Ford in fourth, ahead of David Zhu’s Senova and the two Fords of Pepe Oriola and Rainey He, with Zhang Zhen Dong’s Volkswagen and the two Kias of Alex Fontana and Leo Yi completing the top ten.

Leo Yi’s tenth place was enough to secure him the 2018 drivers’ championship, as team-mate Jason Zhang needed to score big, and Zhang just picked up one point with 12th.

SAIC Volkswagen however made significant gains in the manufacturers’ championship as Kia struggled, with the gap closed to 14.5 points ahead of tomorrow’s final race.

“This place seems to be a lucky place for me. Second win, so huge thanks to the team for giving me a lovely car. It’s tough as we have a big BoP compared to the BAIC cars,” said Huff.

“The car felt really strong, it’s a shame the safety car came out, as I think we could have caught Rob, but whether he’d have let me through, we’ll never know,” said Morgan.

The final race, which features an up-to-12 reversed grid, to be drawn later this afternoon, takes place at 14:18 CST (07:18 CET) on Sunday.