Race report: Victoire for Vernay as French flyer wins at home in WTCR
Jean-Karl Vernay’s home victory at WTCR Race of France not only made him a two-time winner in this season’s WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, but it also reignited his title challenge with two events and four races remaining in 2021.
WTCR Race of France Race 1 top 3
1 Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 30m49.555s (136.6kph)
2 Thed Björk (SWE) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +1.069s
3 Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) BRC Hyundai LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, +5.045s
Fastest lap: Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 1m19.837s (136.6kph)
WTCR Race of France Race 2 top 3
1 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, 31m09.653s (135.3kph)
2 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +1.531s
3 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, +2.457s
Fastest lap: Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR, 1m20.584s (153.3kph)
Top 5 provisional standings after Round 12
1 Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 160 points
2 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, 144
3 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR, 138
4 Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS, 131
5 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR, 126
With the WTCR visiting France − and the challenging 3.030-kilometre Circuit Pau-Arnos − for the first time − Vernay beat fellow Frenchman Yvan Muller away from the line in Race 2 to score his first win since WTCR Race of Germany in June aboard his Goodyear-equipped Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team Elantra.
Muller settled for second with Cyan team-mate Santiago Urrutia completing the podium to help mark Chinese manufacturer Lynk & Co’s fifth anniversary.
Vernay followed Frédéric Vervisch by becoming a two-time winner in WTCR 2021 after Vervisch scored an impressive victory in Race 1 aboard his Comtoyou Team Audi Sport RS 3 LMS. The Belgian made the most of his pole position on the partially-reversed grid to head Thed Björk (Cyan Racing Lynk & Co) with Gabriele Tarquini third for BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse.
By finishing fourth in Race 1 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri boosted his title chances in his Honda Civic Type R TCR, only for contact with Vervisch in Race 2 to cost the Argentine vital points as he finished in seventh. He’s six points adrift of new second-placed driver Vernay and 22 behind Ehrlacher, the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader.
Luca Engstler is now three points behind Gilles Magnus in the FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title order following a victory double. Tom Coronel took a winning brace in the WTCR Trophy for independent racers. Vervisch clinched the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy, while Vernay was the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver after he scored 42 points across the Circuit Pau-Arnos weekend.
RACE WINNER QUOTES
RACE 1: Frédéric Vervisch (Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS)
“Before the weekend I didn’t expect the victory but with the reverse grid you hope or have to win. From the outside it always looks easy but the start was not mega. Thed had a bit better start than me but I could stay in front. That was the key for the race. But then we had the safety car and I think I surprised everybody by going very early. But I knew when I was behind the safety car I knew he was fast so I could go early and then I established a gap and I could keep the gap although Thed came back a bit. But it looked like the gap was big enough and I’m very happy I finished the race without technical problems because it’s very hard for the car. This was my biggest worry after a good start let’s say so thanks to my team and Audi. But the start is key here and we had the pace to be in front.”
RACE 2: Jean-Karl Vernay (Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR)
“It was a good day overall. A lot of points. Since Nürburgring we didn’t score as many points as this weekend, so it’s pretty good. Really consistent, good performance and yeah, we saw the Lynk & Cos were struggling in Race 1 at the start so we said OK. That was the only occasion, let’s say, to have a shot at Yvan and it happened. Definitely really happy and I really tried to push the first few laps to make a gap. The car was reacting really well and then it was just a question of taking care of the car and front tyres, making no mistakes because as soon as you have a lack of concentration you can go a little bit wide and make mistakes or have punctures. It was a long race, especially with the safety car on the last lap. You never know what can happen when the safety car comes in. Overall it was a good race. In Hungary definitely we made a mistake. And Most, overall the weekend was pretty good, we just had an issue on the car. We broke the anti-rollbar and the guys tried to do everything they could on the grid, but we were put in the car just too late and we were penalised for that. So we lost eight points. It’s a lot. But it’s like this, and now we are looking forward to the last two events and we’ll see. But at least we are back in the fight. It’s maybe more my home race than here! It’s closer to my house. We’ll see. It’s difficult to have an idea really. We were testing during the winter. A very slow track. We’ll see if there is an opportunity to overtake. Qualifying for sure will be really important and now there is two events. Everybody will be pushing hard.”
WTCR Race of Italy, Adria International Raceway, November 5-7