WTCR Race 3 Flash: Vernay heads Huff for pole-to-flag victory
Jean-Karl Vernay turned his DHL Pole Position into a convincing victory in Race 3 at WTCR Race of Netherlands as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO put on an enthralling climax at Zandvoort this afternoon (Monday).
Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team driver Vernay just edged clear from fellow front row starter Rob Huff from the lights, then swept right towards the pitwall to protect the inside line into Turn 1. The Frenchman then built a gap that proved decisive and allowed him to claim his second win of the season.
The only doubt over his victory was a message mid-race that the stewards were studying his start. Vernay’s Audi RS 3 LMS appeared to inch forward during a long hold on the lights, but he was at a standstill when they went out.
The victory was a testament to his mechanics’ hard work, following an overnight engine change after Race 1 on Sunday.
“It was a good race,” said Vernay. “The start was good. I was worried because I didn’t have new tyres unlike the others at the front, but I was able to be consistent. The guys did a great job all night fitting the new engine.”
Huff’s Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR was secure in second place throughout the 15-lap encounter, but there was plenty to captivate the large and enthusiastic Zandvoort crowd behind him.
In the early stages Frédéric Vervisch led a train of cars in his Audi Sport Team Comtoyou entry, but he was eventually able to edge away for a podium finish, leaving Esteban Guerrieri and Gordon Shedden to battle for fourth in his wake.
Shedden had started third in his Audi, but lost out on the run to Tarzan to both Vervisch and Guerrieri. Complaining of a lack of grip from his new tyres, he pressured Guerrieri’s ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR for every lap, but just couldn’t find a chink in the Argentinian’s defences.
Race 1 winner Yann Ehrlacher claimed sixth and the WTCR OSCARO points lead in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda, taking over the top spot from his uncle Yvan Muller, who continued to suffer a nightmare weekend in his YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR. The French legend started from the back row of the grid and was never a factor at Zandvoort.
Ehrlacher now leads the standings by nine points from Muller, with Huff just a further seven points back. Vernay is fourth, with early series leader Gabriele Tarquini now fifth in his BRC Racing Team Hyundai. He could only finish P18 in Race 3.
Race 2 victor Aurélien Comte capped a great weekend for DG Sport Compétition by claiming more points in seventh in his PEUGEOT 308TCR. Mehdi Bennani was next in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen, with James Thompson claiming ninth after his Honda demoted Pepe Oriola’s Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra TCR at Tarzan.
A trio of Audis were next, with Nathanaël Berthon heading home Denis Dupont and Aurélien Panis.
There was heartbreak for popular local hero Tom Coronel who was forced to retire at the end of the first lap after contact at the Hugenholtz left-hander with Zengő Motorsport’s Zsolt Szabó.
Wildcard entries Prince Bernhard van Oranje and Michael Verhagen completed their first experience of the WTCR OSCARO by finishing in P19 and P20 respectively in their all-orange Bas Koeten Racing Audis.