Jean-Karl Vernay believes his Audi RS 3 LMS TCR challenger is ‘close to the limit’ of its potential performance under the current Balance of Performance.
The 2017 TCR International Series Champion qualified his WRT-run machine in seventh for the TCR Europe opener, with a fastest time of 2:14:606s around the 3.6 mile Le Castellet circuit in southern France.
With a reversed top ten placing Vernay on the second row for the final race tomorrow, the opportunity is there for the Frenchman to open his account for the season with two strong results.
His TCR Europe campaign is designed to help boost his FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) efforts, with the Audi a brand-new car for Vernay and team-mate, Gordon Shedden.
“We’re just trying to understand the car, the balance wasn’t that bad but, with the BoP we currently have, I think we’re getting close to the limit,” Vernay explained to TouringCars.net at Paul Ricard.
“At least we have some top speed so we can overtake and hopefully the guys in front of me are going to make mistakes, so I have a chance.”
Vernay is also concerned the wide run-off areas at Le Castellet will open up an opportunity for his competition to run wide as things get congested in the opening laps.
“The problem is you can cut [the corners] everywhere here, so we’ll see on the first lap, I’m a little bit worried about that. I’ll just try to get a good start,” he explained.
“We’re in a good position to score big points from both races. We knew that even if there is a change of BoP, Hyundai will still be unbeatable so we’ll just try to score big points [and] be smarter in the race.
“But in the last sector they are much, much quicker than us so I’ll just have to be smart and try to follow them and overtake as soon as there’s an opportunity. We’ll see.”
The opening race at Paul Ricard is scheduled to get underway at 14:40 CEST.