Jean-Karl Vernay was left frustrated after missing out on victory in the opening TCR Europe race at Assen, with the Audi driver blaming gravel left on the track by a separate incident for losing the lead.
Having started from pole position, Vernay was leading the race early on when he went wide at Turn 5 on the fifth lap, allowing Dániel Nagy’s Hyundai to get a run on him heading to the chicane.
Although Vernay went in deep and Nagy clipped the tyres on the inside, the Hungarian was able to complete the pass at the next turn and Vernay slipped into second.
The reigning TCR International Series champion blamed the loss of the lead on being the first driver onto the gravel and believes that he would not have lost the win on pace alone.
“We should never have lost this victory,” said Vernay to TouringCars.Net. “My start was good, it was fine, but I had a massive drop-off after two laps. Maybe I had a puncture or something, but it looks fine. Even if we lost a lot of performance we should have won this race.
“I don’t know who cut the track at Turn 5, but it put maybe one thousand kilograms of gravel on the track when he [Nagy] overtook me, otherwise there’s no way he should have overtaken me.
“I arrived as the first driver of the pack on the gravel and I just went completely wide and he overtook me. Then his rhythm was pretty good and mine was not enough to overtake him, and that’s all; end of story. He didn’t make any big mistakes so I could overtake him again.”
Vernay was clearly frustrated at the lost chance to reduce the gap to the championship leader, even though he did move 15 points closer to the top of the table by taking second.
“Between P1 and P2 is seven points so I tried everything to come back, but we didn’t have the pace compared to him.
“What is frustrating is that we lost victory because one guy put so much gravel on the track. I was the first to arrive and was surprised and just ran really, really wide and he overtook me. That was it, so its frustrating.
“Right now, I’m just really pissed off, because we should have won and it’s just a question of bad luck. I thought I would lose more than one position because I went really, really wide and nearly spun.
“At Monza we’re going to be very fast and we’re going to have to win both races.”