Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay feels encouraged by his Audi’s speed during the TCR Europe races at the Hungaroring, despite his results being hampered by a poor qualifying result.
The 2017 TCR International Series champion was firmly in the top ten during both practice sessions, but struggled for grip and traction during a wet qualifying and could only manage 21st.
Vernay had a clean run through to seventh in race one, but would finish 20th in the reverse-grid contest following contact and then a drive-through penalty for repeated track limit infringements.
He told TouringCars.Net that despite an eventful race he felt the race was “really good” until he struggled after contact with the CUPRA of Danny Kroes.
“The race was really good – we were coming back and we were P13 until [Danny] Kroes just push me out in the second to last turn,” said Vernay.
“Then I tried to push and stay close to one of the Hondas. I had to go a little bit wide and the race was already finished because I lost four places, and I couldn’t really overtake so I took some risks and then got the drive through.
“It’s too bad. But the race was really good, just Kroes pushed me out. But this is the risk when you start from the back – you can’t be lucky all the time.
“I was making a good recovery and then in the middle of the grid is where all the chaos is and you get in trouble. But it’s too bad for us because we were doing a really good race. But next time we need to do a good qualifying, because I’ve never started so far back, for many years. I couldn’t even see the lights, my engineer was on the pit wall to help me!
Despite the twisty 2.722-mile Hungaroring circuit not traditionally suiting the Audi RS 3 LMS, Vernay felt the car had improved since he raced it here in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) earlier in the season.
“We improved the car compared to the last time we were here with WTCR, we saw some good stuff and this is quite positive,” he said.
“But it’s disappointing after qualifying because I’m a racer and I want to do my best but with all the weight we have in the car it’s really difficult and we’ll see for the end of the championship.
“It is what it is. Next time we need a better qualifying – even though we knew we were not going to be quick – but on top of that we didn’t understand what happened with the wet tyres and after that it was tough all weekend.”
With three rounds remaining in the 2018 TCR Europe season, Vernay is hoping to get his title bid back on track after dropping to fifth in the drivers standings this weekend.
“I’ll try to do my job the best I can, be more competitive in qualifying and try to win races as much as possible.
“But we’ll just try to continue the work we were doing at the beginning of the year – we are doing a really good season in WTCR and we’ll see.”