Pepe Oriola was critical of Jean-Karl Vernay for the contact in the first TCR International Series race at the Zhejiang Circuit, which knocked the Craft-Bamboo Racing driver out of a podium position.
Oriola had just lost the lead of the race to the Hyundai of Gabriele Tarquini on lap 11 of race one, and was battling to hold on to second ahead of the Leopard Racing Volkswagen.
However, approaching the final turn of the lap, Vernay made a move on Oriola and contact between the two knocked the Spaniard down to fifth position, with further contact coming from Gianni Morbidelli along the start straight.
Oriola felt that Vernay’s move should have been investigated by the stewards, lamenting the fact that Vernay was not penalised for the incident.
“Jean-Karl took a little bit too much risk, especially as Attila [Tassi] was out of the points,” said Oriola to TouringCars.Net. “I don’t understand his behaviour.
“He thinks that he is untouchable – all year he has been in the middle of incidents on the track; at the Hungaroring in race two he got away, and also at Oschersleben with Tassi.
“I think he should at least be investigated – because at Oschersleben I had a little bit of contact with [Jaap] van Lagen and I immediately got a drive-through. This incident was exactly the same, or maybe even worse, and he didn’t even get investigated.
“I ask for more consistency in the stewards’ decisions, but it seems that he is untouchable. I’m really disappointed with Jean-Karl, because he is a friend and I think he is a professional driver, but there he shouldn’t do things like that.”
Vernay sympathised with Oriola over the incident, saying that he could have braked even later when carrying out the pass.
“I understand him; I never tried to put him out,” added the Frenchman. “I should have maybe braked a bit later, just to make sure that I was side-by-side, but he didn’t really close the door, he just went to the apex.
“I had two feet on the brakes; it was him or the tyres at the apex. I think I did a pretty good move, but he also didn’t give me space.
“I was so much quicker. I understand that he wants to defend, but afterwards he told me that I should have waited one more lap, but I don’t know why he didn’t let me pass because I was 20 times faster than him.
“I’m sorry, because it’s not what I wanted. I did five or six laps behind him and I never try something stupid. I thought it was a good moment, but when I was in position it was too late.”