Leopard Lukoil’s Jean-Karl Vernay is aiming to take victory in both of the TCR Europe races at Monza, after the Audi driver secured pole position ahead of title rival Mikel Azcona in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Vernay was tipped to be the pace-setter before the weekend, with the Audi RS3 LMS having a sleek profile well-suited to the high-speed Monza circuit.
The Frenchman proved his early pace was no fluke in qualifying when he posted the fastest time in both parts of qualifying, take his second pole of the year by just over three tenths of a second.
“We’re doing well; we have a pretty light car after the past two events, as we were quite slow in Hungary and still not that great in Assen,” said Vernay to TouringCars.Net.
“Everybody was expecting us to be up front as we have a good top speed, and we did a pretty good job. We were fastest yesterday and then fastest in both qualifying sessions.
“But it was not that easy as the CUPRA is very, very quick. They are 30 kg heavier than us and it’s a bit surprising. I was not predicting them to be as quick.”
Even though Vernay went into the weekend 44 points adrift from the championship lead, having missed the Zandvoort event due to a WTCR date clash, he admits that he is still hoping to challenge for the title, with a double win at a circuit which favours the Audi being his target.
“I’m still looking for the championship because I always want to win everything I do, but it’s not a good situation with Azcona being in P2, because I only took one point from him. I think he’s going to score some big points in race one.
“The challenge this weekend is to be on pole and to win both races. We did half of the job, so now we just have to win both races.
“The first race is going to be a question of making a good start and being safe in Turn 1 and then we should be fine. The car is quite consistent, and we should be good.
“In race two I have to be patient and overtake the guys one-by-one. I think we can do it – we have an advantage on the straights – and we know it and they know it. We just have to use it and be smart and we’ll see, and not do like what we did in Spa by retiring in race two – we need to score some points.”