tcr / Solid points in Morocco in Race 1
A strong debut for the Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil team in Morocco as the inaugural WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by Oscaro begins.
Free Practice 1 at AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco began with less than ideal conditions as a damp track awaited. TCR International Series champion Jean-Karl Vernay was the fifth fastest driver around the 2.90-km Circuit Moulay El Hassan. His Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil team-mate, Gordon Shedden, languished down in 24th after brake problems had him struggle to reach his full potential. FP2 was unfortunately even wetter than FP1 and was disrupted by a red flag. Jean-Karl Vernay was sixth in his Audi RS 3 LMS, triple British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden made progress to complete the top 10 with his brake issue expertly resolved by the Leopard Lukoil team.
The sun eventually dried the Moroccan Circuit by the afternoon, times were set to be faster but also unknown for the field. A red-flag forced the drivers to stop, the flag brought out due to a competitor dropping oil. Jean-Karl Vernay improved up to an impressive fourth late in the session, while Gordon Shedden was eighth after a small touch with a wall in his Audi RS 3 LMS.
The WTCR format meant Race 1 in Marrakech was not far away, with the Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil drivers on the 2nd and 4th row on the grid. Gabriele Tarquini won the first race of the all-new FIA WTCR while drama unfolded behind him.
There was barely a lap of racing before the safety car was called. The race got underway once again as the field started lap 11. Behind the podium, Vernay collected a solid fourth for Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team while three-time British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden was sixth in his Audi RS 3 LMS. Three hours later, Flash moved in 5th for local hero Bennani’s 10″ penality.
Tomorrow, April 8th, Race 2 of Morocco will start with the Second Qualifying split into 3 sessions, the last one will allocate 5 points for the Shootout award. Race 2 (18 Laps) and Race 3 (21 Laps) will take place at 16:45 and 18:10 local time respectively.
#69 Jean-Karl VERNAY:
“It was a good day overall. We weren’t expecting to be as close to the front so we are really pleased with the race results. We are always quick in the rain and in the dry, from P4 in Qualifying to P4 in the race it’s some big points on a track where we should not have been so strong. Being the first Audi is also very important. I’m really happy for the sponsors and the team. A good season ahead!”
#52 Gordon SHEDDEN:
“Just after Race 1 here in Morocco, a fantastic result for the team with a fourth and a sixth at the start of the championship. For me personally I had a fantastic start to the race and managed to squeeze between some drivers and the wall to gain some positions. My car felt really good, we just got a bit stuck in traffic. A lot of positives and ready for tomorrow.”
WTCR 2018 Afriquia Race of Morocco
circuit: Moulay El Hassan
Free Practice 1 : p 5 – J.K. Vernay / p 24 – G. Shedden
Free Practice 2 : p 6 – J.K. Vernay / p 10 – G. Shedden
First Qualifying :
1 – T. Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 1’24.698
2 – N. Michelisz / HUN / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 1’24.834
3 – G. Tarquini / ITA / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 1’25.059
4 – J.K. Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 1’25.256
8 – G. Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 1’25.577
Race 1 :
1 – G. Tarquini / ITA / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 20 Laps
2 – T. Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / +0.729
3 – R. Huff / GBR / Sebastian Loeb Racing / VW Golg GTi / +2.823
4 – J.K. Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +4.593
5 – G. Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +5.702
Drivers’ World Standing :
1 – G. Tarquini / 27 points
2 – T. Bjork / 20 p.
3 – R. Huff / 17 p.
4 – J.K. Vernay / 14 p.
5 – G. Shedden / 12 p.
Sunday, April 8th:
10:30-11:00 – Second Qualifying Q1
11:05-11:20 – Second Qualifying Q2
11:30-11:40 – Second Qualifying Q3 (top-five shootout, awarded points as 5-4-3-2-1)
16:45 – Race 2 (18 Laps; top 10 positions after Second Qualifying reversed)
18:10 – Race 3 (21 Laps; grid as per combined order after Q3)
Races’ Points allocation:
R2 : 25 – 18 – 15 – 12 – 10 – 8 – 6 – 4 – 2 – 1
R3 : 30 – 23 – 19 – 16 – 13 – 10 – 7 – 4 – 2 – 1
Photo credit: Audi Media Center