Jean-Karl Vernay says that the extra motivation from having to undergo an overnight engine change spurred him on to victory in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at Zandvoort.
Vernay led from lights-to-flag to take his second win of the season and move up to fourth overall in the drivers’ championship standings, 25 behind Honda’s leader Yann Ehrlacher.
The Audi Sport driver was, until his engine change, the most consistent driver in the field. He put his win in part down to a strategy of focussing on race three – including using his best tyres to qualify his Audi RS3 LMS on pole position.
“It was a great day; I was really motivated after what happened yesterday,” said Vernay. “Changing engines is always not nice. We knew we would have one race down [without points] and I was the only driver until this morning to score points in every race.
“But I said to my crew ‘don’t worry, we’re going to make pole and we’re going to win’ and we made it, and this is pretty cool.
“The team did a great effort all night to rebuild the car, to have a good car ready for qualifying. After that I just did my job. I was pretty confident – the balance of the car was good, and I just tried to push and drive well as I learned to do.”
Vernay came under pressure from Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff in the early stages of the race, before opening up a comfortable lead over the Volkswagen driver, eventually winning by over a second.
“The biggest point was the starts. I was able to stay in front even though Rob made a better start than me.
“I was a little bit scared because Fréd [Vervisch], Gordon [Shedden] and Rob had new tyres on the front and we spent all our tyres yesterday and this morning.
“I was not sure [I could] be as consistent as them but we drove well, the car was good trying to stay smooth with the front tyres and we made it.
“It’s good, we’re back in the championship and this is the most important thing.”