tcr / Vernay close to the podium in Race-1 to strengthen his lead in the standings; first championship points for Rob Huff.
Fourth place just a few tenths off the podium for the Frenchman driver in Race-1 of the Spa-Francorchamps round. Excellent performance from his new team-mate, Ro Huff, who narrowly missed the Top Five to claim his first points in the TCR International Series. Both drivers will have their chance at revenge in tomorrow’s Race-2.
In the qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, Comtoyou Racing’s pair Stefano Comini and Fred Vervisch claimed the fastest lap times to give Audi its first pole position in the International Series while Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay and Rob Huff both qualified in the top 5.
At the start of Race-1, Vernay tried to sneak in between his rivals but it was the two Hondas of Tassi and Lessennes to take the lead, both of which were soon overtaken in style on Lap-2 by reigning champion Comini. The first three cars managed to open a gap on the second group as Vervisch’s Audi A3 couldn’t keep the pace, also slowing down Vernay’s VW Golf GTI. The Leopard Racing Team WRT driver was a constant threat in the rearview mirrors of the local hero.
Great battle on Lap-5 as Vernay’s aggressive driving put a lot of pressure on the Audi A3 and newcomer Huff kept on closing the door on Mondron’s attacks. However, Vernay found the perfect manouvre in the braking zone to complete his pass and gain several meters of advantage in just half a lap with his Leopard Racing WRT Golf GTI. Three laps to the end and the Frenchman was ready to attack Tassi to take 3rd, but the Hungarian was able to keep all the doors shut and cross the finish line ahead of Vernay by just three tenths of a second.
Rob Huff fought like a lion and only Vervisch’s dexterity – a real specialist of the circuit – prevented him from claiming a spot in the Top Five just behind his teammate. Thanks to his sixth place, the Englishman gained his first championship points while Jean-Karl Vernay increased his lead in the standings up to 15 points. Leopard Racing WRT drivers are not happy and will be chasing revenge in tomorrow’s Race-2.
#2 – Jean Karl VERNAY:
“The race was pretty good. I had a good start but I was in the middle of some other cars and I couldn’t really take advantage of it. After that it was a tough race. Finally I was able to pass the guys ahead after a few laps but it came quickly, the car was amazing through sector two. Then I closed down on third very fast but again I couldn’t overtake him. All the cars are very fast in the straight and we can’t do much. But good points for the championship despite the situation which is a little frustrating. It’s tough to keep your nerve, it is what it is and the team did a great job. We just need to keep the same spirit and work on the top speed.”
#3 – Robert HUFF:
“Good start, solid start for my first race. Really happy with the job that myself and JK did. I spent the first half of the race just protecting JK, keeping the guys behind and allowing him to attack. It worked really well and he made some great moves. Unfortunately I didn’t, couldn’t, create an opportunity to get past but the car was really good. I think that’s one of the things also, I’m not only here to protect and help JK but also to help the team move forward with setup and improve the car. I think on a circuit we thought was probably going to be one of our hardest, we got some good points and qualified well. It’s a setup that the team hadn’t used before on the car and I think that’s helping in the qualifying and racing. Really happy with the points and pleased to help JK extend the lead in the championship.”
Spa Francorchamps Circuit – Race 1:
1 – S. Comini / SWI / Comtoyou Racing / Audi RS3 LMS / 9 Laps
2 – B. Lessennes / BEL / Boutsen Ginion Racing / Honda Civic Type-R / +3.457
3 – A. Tassi / HUN / M1RA / Honda Civic Type-R / +8.343
4 – J.K. Vernay / FRA / Leopard Racing Team WRT / VW Golf GTI / +8.764
5 – F. Vervisc / BEL / Comtoyou Racing / Audi RS3 LMS / +9.063
6 – R. Huff / GBR / Leopard Racing Team WRT / VW Golf GTI / +9.325
7 – E. Mondron / BEL / Delahaye Racing / VW Golf GTI / +9.619
8 – T. Coronel / NED / Boutsen Ginion Racing / Honda Civic Type-R / +10.550
9 – P. Oriola / SPA / Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing / Seat Leon / +11.790
10 – G. Corthals / BEL / DG Sport Competition / Opel Astra / +12.075
2017 Drivers’ Classification
1 – J.K. Vernay 66 points
2 – S. Comini 51 p.
3 – D. Borković 51 p.
4 – A. Tassi 51 p.
5 – R. Colciago 50 p.
6 – P. Oriola 47 p.
7 – D. Kajaia 39 p.
8 – H. Valente 38 p.
9 – J. Nash 34 p.
10 – F. Ficza 29 p.
TCR International Series 2017 – Schedule (Local Time, GMT +2):
Saturday, May 6th:
17:25 – Race2