tcr / Huff on the fourth row at Salzburgring, Vernay in need of a comeback
It has been a tough Saturday for the Leopard Racing WRT Team as the championship leader narrowly missed out a place in Q2. Excellent performance from team-mate Rob Huff, finally back to the TCR International Series, who will start tomorrow’s race in Austria from 7th on the grid.
Dusan Borkovic’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta set the pace in a very close FP1 session with the fastest twenty drivers within nine tenths of a second and six different makers in the top seven. The FP2 was topped by Stefano Comini’s Audi RS3 LMS while Jean-Karl Vernay only joined in the second half of the session to eventually claim fifth place.
Q1 began with both Leopard Racing WRT drivers in the Top 5 but Seat and Honda cars were about to increasingly lower their laptimes, especially Roberto Colciago, who was handed a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race following a crash he caused in the previous round. At the end of the session, Kajaia’s Alfa Giulietta was quick to take 1st place while Morbidelli pushed the Leopard duo further behind in the timesheets. However, Rob Huff managed to make a brilliant last lap whereas championship leader Vernay missed the cut to Q2.
In the breathtaking last 10 minutes, the 12 remaining drivers did not hesitate to battle it out and Rob Huff was able to claiming an unbelievable 5th place before getting beaten under the chequered flag by Austria’s Jager and fellow countryman Nash.
Robert Huff, 7th:
“I am really pleased with the qualifying sessions, although I am obviously sat for what happened to JK. Unfortunately he was caught out by that yellow flag while I wasn’t, I actually did my best lap while the flag was out and also my fastest sector 2 in that lap, which is where the flags were. I have to give credit to guys in the team for the great job they have done: we already knew the car was going to struggle on the straight lines and, of course, it showed, but we have been able to make the most out of the handling of the car. We did two great laps to secure our place in Q2 and in the end P7 is not bad at all. The races are going to be very tough because we are slow on the straight and there’s also a little problem with the engine of my car. It’s not going to be easy and we will try our best to score as many points as possible.”
Jean-Karl Vernay, 13th:
“Free practice went pretty well, so we were really optimistic about qualifying, but then the car was not feeling good. We had some issue with the front-end but nonetheless we managed to finish in the Top 10. Then the yellow flag came out and even though some riders were able to improve, I was quite cautious in the sector were the yellow flag was as I did not want to be penalized, That was a mistake as I did not improve my laptime and we did not make it to Q2. It’s a bit of a disaster but it is what it is, we just need to stay focused and have some good races tomorrow, even though it is going to be difficult. Sometimes you just want to play it safe but it didn’t pay off this time around.”
Results – Qualifying 1 + Qualifying 2:
1 – M. Homola / SVK / DG Sport Competition / Opel Astra / 1’25.481
2 – D. Borkovic / SRB / GE Force / Alfa Romeo Giulietta / +0.071
3 – P. Oriola / SPA / Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing / Seat Leon / +0.077
4 – A. Tassi / HUN / M1RA / Honda Civic Type-R / +0.155
5 – T. Jager / AUT / Team Kissling MotorSport / Opel Astra / +0.469
6 – J. Nash / GBR / Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing / Seat Leon / +0.473
7 – R. Huff / GBR / Leopard Racing Team WRT / VW Golf GTI / +0.534
8 – S. Comini / SWI / Comtoyou Racing / Audi RS3 LMS / +0.622
9 – G. Morbidelli / ITA / West Coast Racing / VW Golf GTI / +0.636
10 – R. Colciago / ITA / M1RA / Honda Civic Type-R / +0.663
11 – D. Lloyd / GBR / Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing / Seat Leon / +0.751
12 – F. Vervisch / BEL / Comtoyou Racing / Audi RS3 LMS / +1.412
13 – J.K. Vernay / FRA / Leopard Racing Team WRT / VW Golf GTI / 1’26.578
Salzburgring, 4.24 km (Local Time, GMT +2):
Sunday, June 11th:
11:05 – Race 1 (15 laps)
14:35 – Race 2 (15 laps)