It was a day of highs and lows for Leoapard Racing at the Salzburgring. After trailing near the back of field in both Practice Sessions, Jean-Karl Vernay recovered excellently in difficult qualifying conditions when a downpour hit the circuit at the start of Qualifying.
Putting his VW second on the grid but on pole after Harald Proczky’s WestCoast Racing Honda was eliminated for a technical infringement. Vernay was surprised with the result but praised his team for their efforts.
“We were expecting a dry qualifying,” said Vernay. “In Q1 I did my best and then, with the rain in Q2, I gave it my best shot to get on the front row. The team did everything perfectly in these very critical conditions and I thank them for that.
“Tomorrow, we will set up the car depending on the weather, so today was a useful experience.”
It was a different story for Leopard Racing’s leading driver Stefano Comini who, like Vernay, struggled in the practice sessions and was running well in Q1 until his car was hit by a gearbox issue that forced the team to make a decision and change the gearbox entirely.
This cost Comini, second in the Championship standings behind Pepe Oriola, a chance to fight for pole. After the session Comini admitted that the team did not want to take any risks.
“After a difficult free practice for us, the arrival of the rain could have helped in terms of getting a good grid position,” explained Comini. “But after free practice, we spotted a problem with the gearbox and not wishing to leave anything to chance, we decided to change it, knowing we could get it done in the time available.
“Unfortunately, the rain we had hoped for arrived 5 minutes too early to suit us, which meant I had to run slicks on a wet track and that kept us out of Q2.”
As a result Comini starts the grid from 13th for race seven of the TCR International Series.
With rain due to hit the Salzburgring tomorrow Leopard racing will be hoping for a successful weekend and an extension to their wet weather form when the race starts at 11:35 BST.