James Nash has criticised Jean-Karl Vernay for a ‘silly lunge’ in the first TCR International Series race at Spa-Francorchamps, with the move eventually costing the Frenchman a points finish.
Nash and Vernay were battling for fourth position in the first race in Belgium when the Leopard Racing driver tagged the back of Nash’s Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT heading into Turn 18 late in the race.
The contact dropped Nash to eighth, with Vernay being handed a post-race 30-second penalty to drop him to 14th.
“I think we had the pace together, he was able to keep up due to the tow, and we were running quicker than the guys in front, so there wasn’t really much need for him at that point to make any silly lunge,” said Nash to TouringCars.Net. “They were stronger on the brakes, I will admit that, but he needs to brake at the point I break, or go around me, not in the back of me.
“He’s totally responsible and I think his punishment probably wasn’t severe enough considering he’s been cutting track limits all weekend. He had four warnings, one of them was taken back in qualifying.
“We had a bulletin first thing in driver’s briefings saying that if you received three warnings you would be at the back of the grid, or a five-place penalty, but that didn’t happen. We missed a trick as a team.
“I think he’s got a few issues with finding out what pushing is allowed and what isn’t. Pushing somebody off is always a penalty, pushing somebody and damaging their car is something completely different if they stay on their racing line.
“He needs to learn quickly because he’s not doing himself any favours to his name.”
Vernay himself admitted to having made a mistake when he hit Nash, but expressed frustration at how the incient resulted in a drive-through penalty being awarded.
“We were fighting with a fair battle for four laps, and it’s not that I started to get pissed because we were quicker in the straights than him, he just braked a bit earlier,” said Vernay to TouringCars.Net. “He braked from right to left, so I was a bit surprised. I messed up with my gearbox and I locked a little bit and I touched him, but I don’t know why he went to the left.
“I didn’t want that result, otherwise I should have done that before. Normally it’s a racing contact in TCR or WTCC, but now it’s a penalty. If they had penalised everyone from the beginning I would say sorry, it’s my mistake, but they don’t penalise anybody.
“I made a mistake, I touched him and I was surprised he braked so early, but I have nothing to say about it. What I think is unfair is that the rules were not the same since Bahrain, that’s all. If everybody else is at the same level, I would have no problem.”