Jean-Karl Vernay has slammed Alain Menu for causing a collision between the pair in qualifying for the TCR International Series at Imola, with the Leopard Racing driver qualifying down in 14th position as a result.
Vernay made contact with WestCoast Racing guest driver Menu half-way through the Q1 session, with the Swiss racer appearing to be going slow around the track whilst Vernay was on a flying lap.
Approaching the Variante Alta at Turns 11 and 12, Menu remained on the racing line, forcing Vernay to cut the chicane and go into the side of Menu’s Honda.
That left Vernay with damaged front-left suspension and out of the session, whilst Menu was able to continue into Q2 where he qualified in seventh position.
“It’s terrible; I was flashing Menu on the back straight before the chicane,” explained a frustrated Vernay afterwards. “He just blocked me on purpose, and then he really stopped in the chicane. I tried to avoid him by jumping over the kerb, but when I came back on track I hit him.
“With all the experience he has it’s really a stupid action. He is a guest driver who is not even doing the [whole] championship, and he blocked me on purpose, so I’m not happy at all.
“We broke the car and on my lap time I was improving by seven tenths and should have easily been in the top ten, and now I’m P14 so no reverse grid or nothing. This is really terrible and it sucks that a guest driver makes this kind of mistake. He should not do that.
“Of course I’m going to go and see him because he really did it on purpose – there is no way he couldn’t have seen me, I was flashing my lights all down the back straight.”
Vernay added that he was hoping to salvage some points finishes in the two races which take place later on Sunday, although he believes that a podium finish is out of the question.
“Now it’s done, and we have to focus on the race. From P14 we can’t hope for much chance of a podium or victory, but I’ll try to do a good race and have a good comeback and try to score points.
“It’s a difficult weekend – it’s my first time here and I have a lot to learn from the sessions. It was starting to look pretty good, but now we have this result and I’m really unhappy, very sorry for the guys.”