Paulsen accepts Vernay apology but disappointed positions weren’t altered

Stian Paulsen has accepted Jean-Karl Vernay’s apology for contact between the pair during the opening TCR Europe race at Paul Ricard, but feels the Audi Sport driver should have received a small time penalty to redress the issue.

The contact, which came mid-corner through Virage du Pont in the closing stages as part of an enthralling scrap for positions 4th through to 8th, sent Paulsen’s CUPRA out wide and dropped him behind Vernay and the Hyundai i30 N of Igor Stefanovski.

Vernay would finish 6th in the Audi RS 3 LMS, with Paulsen coming home 8th.

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The two spoke after the race, in which 2017 TCR International Series Champion Vernay acknowledged responsibility for the clash and apologised to Paulsen.

Speaking to TouringCars.net, the Norwegian accepted Vernay’s apology but feels the stewards should have intervened with a time penalty to drop the WRT driver back behind Paulsen.

“I was in the middle of the corner and I was just hit really hard at the rear end,” explained Paulsen.

“He came and said sorry, accepted it was one hundred percent his fault and everything. We cannot change it now so that will have to be okay, but I was a little bit surprised he didn’t get any time penalty.

“I was actually pretty sure I was going to be P7 after he got a five-second time penalty but nothing happened, so I’m a little bit disappointed about that but we’ll try again. I’ll be pushing really hard from the first lap.”

Paulsen, who rebuilt his machine after a heavy crash at Oschersleben last year, hasn’t been able to test prior to making the journey to Le Castellet.

To try and make up ground on the opposition, he tried a bold move on setup ahead of the first race, which ultimately did not pay off.

“The race was pretty hard from my point of view,” he admitted.

“This car, with this tyre and weight, it gives too much grip at the rear and I didn’t do any testing before this year, until we started the car up on Friday morning because of the crash at Oschersleben last year.

“So I was thinking ‘let’s try something crazy’ [on the setup], it’ll either work really well, or we’re just going to finish in the top ten.”

The final race in the south of France gets underway at 15:50 CEST.

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