Podium lockout for British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport as Huff heads historic 1-2-3

29th May 2024

Twenty years on from his last British Touring Car Championship victory – similarly achieved at Snetterton – Rob Huff returned to the top step of the podium at his home circuit courtesy of a virtuoso performance last weekend (25/26 May), as he spearheaded a milestone Toyota one-two-three.

Huff has rejoined the country’s premier motor racing series in 2024 following a two-decade absence, but it has taken him no time at all to settle back into the groove. Having tallied four points finishes from the opening six races, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK star travelled to Snetterton targeting a trophy. He delivered in emphatic fashion.

Huff ultimately wound up more than two seconds clear of his closest pursuer to cap an historic result, with Toyotas locking out all three podium positions for the very first time in the BTCC as the Speedworks Motorsport-prepared, British-built Corolla GR Sport proved to be the unquestionable cream of the crop. His third career triumph has vaulted the 44-year-old up to ninth in the title standings.

In the sister car, team-mate Andrew Watson pipped Huff to seventh on the grid in qualifying by the slender margin of 55 thousandths-of-a-second, as he fell a mere 0.080s short of securing a spot in the ‘Quick Six’. After staving off some early pressure from series champions Colin Turkington and Tom Ingram, the Northern Irishman went on to convert that into fifth place on soft tyres in the opener – his finest finish to-date for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK.

There were mixed results elsewhere for the duo during the day, but there’s little doubting the pace and potential of the outfit heading to the super-fast Thruxton in Hampshire on 8/9 June.

Christian Dick, Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said: “Where do I start? That was a weekend that will live long in the memory, right up there with our first podium in the BTCC, our first victory and our two Independents’ titles. To see cars that we built, that we prepared finishing first, second and third – something never previously accomplished by Toyotas in the series – was a huge source of satisfaction for every single member of this incredibly hard-working team.

“I said before we went to Snetterton that our championship position did not accurately reflect our performance level and potential, so it was wonderful to finally convert that into a real result that everybody can be very proud of. For Rob in particular, it was an emotional day, and the manner in which he achieved the win – from nowhere near the front of the grid – was truly impressive, showcasing all his well-honed driving skills and underscoring just why we were so keen to bring him back to the BTCC this year.

“Andrew similarly performed extremely well and was unlucky not to come away with some silverware himself. He produced a very mature and composed drive in race one

and was unfortunate to be caught out by the conditions in race two when on-track for a second-place finish, but on such a challenging day, he was far from alone in making a mistake. He will come back stronger and even more fired-up next time out at Thruxton, where the target has to be to keep this form going.”

Rob Huff, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said: “To be winning again in the BTCC is exactly what I came back for! The car felt fantastic all weekend; we made barely any changes to it from the set-up that we arrived with, and the team did a brilliant job. I’ve always been confident in changeable conditions, and race two on the slicks was looking very good until the heavens re-opened, but to come from 14th on the grid to win the last one was amazing!

“I genuinely had no idea we were in the lead. I knew we were coming through, but I saw cars going off in all directions early on and was predominantly focussed on pushing and pushing and picking people off one at a time.

“The Toyota was really well dialled-in – just what I’ve been searching for this season. The team truly delivered and the Corolla gave me everything I needed. When you have a car like that underneath you, you’ve got no other option than to throw absolutely everything at it. I had great battles with both Aiden [Moffat] and Josh [Cook], and to bring home a win at my home track was absolutely mega!

“To repeat my 2004 victory at Snetterton was very special not only for me, but for my family and friends as well. I couldn’t be happier for the team and everybody else who was there at the weekend to support me. To nail it in my ninth race back, I’ll definitely take that!”

Andrew Watson, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said: “The weekend got off to a tough start; the car felt really loose in practice, but my engineer came up with a few good ideas and we executed pretty well in qualifying. Seventh place put us solidly in the mix, and I was looking forward to having some fun on Sunday!

“The weather was impossible to call all day, but I tend to go well when it’s like that and I was pleased with the result in race one. It was a good, clean race, with a couple of nice overtakes. The conditions were tough in race two – when the rain reappeared, we were fighting simply to stay on the track. Still, we were doing everything right until I just locked a rear and before I knew it, I was on the grass. That had been a great chance for a podium finish, so I was a bit gutted and very annoyed with myself.

“We gambled on the wet tyres in race three because otherwise we would have had to use the hard-compound, which would have been a struggle with most drivers on either softs or mediums. Running second again was fun while it lasted, but it soon became clear we were on borrowed time.

“Nevertheless, I’m starting to really get the hang of the Corolla now and I’m very happy with how everybody is working together. We’re building and building, improving the car

in all conditions and beginning to properly establish ourselves as front-runners – and that was always the primary goal.”

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