SEAT Sport UK celebrated its second podium finish today in the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship, after another excellent performance by the new team saw Robert Huff claim 2nd place in Round 4 at Brands Hatch.
Rob, the 2003 Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Champion, also won the BTCC Driver of the Day award after running in 4th position for much of Race 5 and finishing 4th in Race 6. It was a truly superb effort, particularly as he’d only made his BTCC debut at Thruxton two weeks ago.
Jason Plato was pushed into the wall in a spectacular Round 4 start-line accident. The SEAT Sport UK team worked miracles to repair the Toledo Cupra in time for Jason to start Round 6.
Brands Hatch (April 25th) - BTCC rounds 4,5,6 - SEAT Sport UK race summary
Jason Plato: Qualified 12th. DNF.
Rob Huff: Qualified 5th. Finished 2nd.
Having qualified 5th Rob made a great start in the opening race of the day to move up to 2nd by the first corner before a stunning move on Matt Neal going into Surtees saw him take the lead by the end of lap one. Team-mate Jason Plato had a bad start and was powered into the wall at the end of the start/finish straight by Justin Keen. The car was badly damaged and the safety car was dispatched in order for the debris to be cleared up. Rob got away cleanly on the re-start on lap 8, but Neal managed to get up the inside of him going into Druids. Rob held a strong 2nd for the remainder of the race to take 2nd place and his first BTCC podium.
Jason said: “I didn’t get a very good start and I got turned round by Justin Keen. It wasn’t a punt he just kept his toe in and turned me into the wall. It was a big shunt and it’s annoying because it’s almost destroyed the car and we might not be able to race this afternoon. You just don’t need that sort of stuff, if it was a bit of tap and you go off then fine, but when someone just keeps their toe hard in and turns you round on the start it’s a bit dangerous and a bit daft really. It’s a shame but I’m really pleased for Rob and another podium’s a fantastic result for the team.”
Rob said: “I had an absolutely blinding start and got up the inside of James Thompson and then Matt Neal squeezed Colin Turkington onto the grass a bit so I managed to get round the outside of him and into second position. Then coming down Graham Hill Bend I got a good run up the inside of Matt Neal and took the lead. When the safety car came out it was kind of good for me because I was panicking thinking ‘I’m not supposed to be here’ but it gave me good chance to think about what I was going to do. I had a good restart and then on the run up to paddock Matt Neal got up the inside of me. The rest of the race I just pushed hard to secure second place. I’m really pleased, it’s a fantastic result for all the team who’ve worked so hard and we’ll try to go one better this afternoon if we can.”
Rob Huff: Started 9th . Finished 11th .
Jason Plato: DNS
Rob made another good start and enjoyed a thrilling battle with Anthony Reid, holding 4th position for 11 of the 24 lap race. On lap 20 a collision with Reid bent the Toledo Cupra’s front steering arm, making it very difficult for Rob to steer it around the circuit as he nursed the car home in 11th place.
Rob said: “I had a good start and made up a couple of places and then a couple of people in front went wide and I got up to fourth with Reid sat behind me. He was a little bit quicker than me, but not quick enough to get past. He hit me four or five times up at Druids and twice down at Graham Hill Bend and then with about five laps let to go just because the old boy was getting desperate he decides to launch his car into the side of mine to make it stick. I’d already turned into the corner and all of a sudden he drives into my front right wheel and passenger door and takes me out of a good fourth place finish as I was quite comfortably keeping him behind me.”
Jason Plato: Started 20th . DNF.
Rob Huff: Started 11th. Finished 4th .
Starting from 11th position on the grid, Rob got off to another flying start in his Toledo Cupra to move up two positions going into the first corner of the race. Drawing to a close only his second BTCC meeting he fought his way through the field and with some aggressive passing manoeuvres was up to 4th position by the start of lap 10. Hard on the tail of Yvan Muller in 3rd, Rob consistently narrowed the gap to the Frenchman with every lap to cross the finish line almost side-by-side in 4th position.
The SEAT Sport UK team did a tremendous job to get Jason’s badly damaged car to the start of the final race. Starting at the back of the grid in 20th position, a good start saw Jason move up five places by the end of the first lap. He continued to push hard and was in a comfortable 12th position when on lap 22 he stopped out on the circuit.
Rob said: “I had another really good start and made up a couple of places coming through Paddock Hill Bend and another couple coming out - it was all a bit frantic and before I knew it I was in fourth place. I pushed hard and on the last three or four laps I caught up with Muller. I tried to get past him but he’s a tough cookie and I finished right behind him in fourth! We’ve had another great day today. The team has done an absolutely fantastic job, not only with me but putting Jason’s car back together. At the end of the day without such a great team we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
Jason said: “My car was a complete mess after this morning’s big shunt and the team did a brilliant job to get it back out for the final race of the afternoon. I think in reality there isn’t anyone else in the pit lane that could have got that car ready and it just goes to show what good team spirit we’ve got - everyone just got on and did the job and worked miracles with the car. It was perhaps too much to expect the car to finish a race after taking such an impact and in the end I had to park it because it was getting more and more difficult to drive. But at the end of the day we’re all still smiling, so roll on Silverstone!”