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Jean-Karl Vernay happy with ‘big step forward’ in championship standings

Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay said he was pleased after a ‘really good’ race one victory at Spa-Francorchamps, especially as he now sits third in the points standings.

The 2017 TCR International Series champion controlled the opening TCR Europe race with a lights-to-flag victory, and is now less than 30 points adrift of championship leader Mikel Azcona despite missing the last round at Zandvoort due to FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) commitments.

Vernay told TouringCars.Net he was concerned about tyre degradation late in the race, after he pushed early to fend off pressure from Maxime Potty in second position.

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“He was pushing me quite hard in the first few laps and I was just focused on making no mistakes,” he said. “I had to contain him.

“We were struggling a little bit at the end with the tyres because I pushed too much at the start. That means we still need to improve the car a little bit.

“But it was good – the plan was to make pole and win, and we made pole and won. So it couldn’t be better, and now I have to focus on tomorrow, try to improve the car to have a more consistent car because it’s going to be a different story.”

The race-one winner will start from the fifth row in tomorrow’s reverse-grid race, and believes the key will be staying out of trouble and collecting more points.

“Starting P10, I need to get a good start and avoid crashes and big mess and try to come back obviously a top five would be good. Podium would be even better.

“And let’s start with that in mind because we need to score points. The next weekend in Hungary will be difficult for us so let’s see tomorrow.

“I saw we are P3 now in the ranking so it’s a big step forward today and I’m really proud of my crew.”

Vernay also believes that dovetailing his TCR Europe commitments alongside WTCR this season has helped him to progress simply because of the sheer amount of time spent behind the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS.

“Doing both championships is for sure a big help for me because I’m in the car quite a lot, and this is a big help. I’m just improving and improving from last year.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s race, Vernay is keen to get on top of tyre wear, but believes the key will be to drive a clean race.

“We need to watch the data. The main problem was tyre degradation so now we need to find a solution to improve that, but no let’s check the data and then the guys will have to work a little bit tonight before having a beer!”

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