Jean-Karl Vernay repaid his hard working Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team at WTCR Race of Netherlands by topping qualifying on Monday morning as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO prepares for an action-packed race day at Zandvoort.
An overnight engine change following Race 1 failed to spoil Vernay’s day, as he blitzed the top-five Q3 shoot-out to beat Rob Huff to the top time by an impressive 0.459s.
“It was a really good lap,” said a satisfied Vernay. “Q1 was good, Q2 was more difficult, but I just did the best I could and it worked out well.
“We needed to get pole [for Race 3] because of the engine problem yesterday that means I start Race 2 from the back. Congratulations to my crew who had little sleep to change the engine. I told them we’d get pole, so I’m pretty pleased with that.”
Vernay was quick from the off, topping the 20-minute Q1 session despite that overnight engine change that automatically forces him to the back of the grid for Race 2. He headed Huff and Frédéric Vervisch at this stage, as a number of major names missed the cut for Q2.
With the top 12 of the 27-car field heading through to the next knock-out session, Audi Sport Team Comtoyou’s Denis Dupont was the first to be disappointed, finding himself being bumped to P13 in the final moments of the session. Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Benjamin Lessennes also missed out in P14, while none of the Hyundai i30 N TCRs made it through. YMR’s WTCR OSCARO points leader Yvan Muller was only P18 following his controversial crash in Race 1, with team-mate Thed Björk one place behind him.
Norbert Michelisz, who has earned a 10-place grid penalty for Race 2 for his part in Muller’s accident, was P20, two positions ahead of BRC team-mate Gabriele Tarquini.
In Q2, the name of the game is to make it into the top five to head through to the final Q3 one-at-a-time shoot-out. Vervisch was fastest in the 10-minute session from Huff, Audi team-mates Vernay and Gordon Shedden, with Esteban Guerrieri the fifth driver to make the cut.
Race 1 winner Yann Erhlacher just missed out in P6, from Mehdi Bennani, Pepe Oriola and Aurélien Comte, who starred yesterday on his way to second place in his DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCR.
The crucial P10 qualifier was James Thompson, which means the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR will start the reverse-grid Race 2 from the DHL Pole Position. His best time edged out John Filippi and Aurélien Panis in P11 and P12 respectively.
In Q3, Guerrieri missed out on his shoot-out run because of an apparent problem with his right-front wheel. That meant Shedden’s Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS 3 LMS was the first to go. The Briton set a target time of 1m44.590s in what he described as a “scrappy lap”.
Team-mate Vernay was the next to go and put in a great lap to beat Shedden’s time by an impressive 0.596s.
Huff was the penultimate runner, the Briton bidding for his second DHL Pole Position in as many days. But the Golf was slowed by a big twitch at the long Hugenholtz left-hander and Huff only managed a time 0.459s slower than Vernay. He was at least faster than Shedden.
Vervisch was supposed to be the last to go, but his hopes of knocking fellow Audi driver Vernay from the top spot were dashed with a problem on his out lap. The Audi Sport Team Comtoyou driver pulled off without attempting to set a time.
Race 2 of WTCR Race of Netherlands takes place later today (Monday) at 12h15 local time, with Race 3 following at 16h35.
Via FIA WTCR