Frédéric Vervisch was ‘pretty sure’ Thed Bjork would wrest the final podium spot away in the final stages of the third FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race at the Slovakia Ring.
The Belgian claimed his fourth podium of the campaign behind the wheel of the Comtoyou-run Audi RS 3 LMS, but was made to work for it.
A bold sweeping move to the outside of Turn 1 promoted him from the fourth row of the grid into podium contention, and after Yvan Muller’s Hyundai i30 N pulled off with a front-left tyre missing, he inherited third.
First Fabrizio Giovanardi, and then later Muller’s team mate Bjork would try – unsuccessfully – to take that position away again.
2017 WTCC Champion Bjork briefly managed it into Turn 12 heading onto the final lap, but Vervisch’s retribution was swift and another brave move on the outside of Turn 1 earnt him a trip to the podium.
He did admit, however, a fear that once one car made it past him, the rest would follow in due course.
“I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it because I was so slow,” Vervisch told TouringCars.net after the race.
“I struggled there the whole weekend with race pace. The first two or three laps were OK, but then I would drop.
“I was sure people thought I was it on purpose, to drive so slow, but the car cannot handle more. And of course I had really experienced drivers behind me who know all the tricks, and I tried as hard as possible.
“The advantage of our car is we have good straight line speed, so this helps. I’m very happy, it feels like a victory, one of the best races I’ve had because the fight was so hard.”
“This feels like a victory, better than the Nurburgring or a victory in another series. It’s fantastic to start in front and finish the job because that is what we all want.
“I was sure I wouldn’t make it. OK, just try everything I can. I knew if one would pass me everyone would start to pass me. The feeling is great and I’m really happy with that.”
The championship returns to action at Ningbo in China over the final weekend of September.