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Jean-Karl Vernay hoping aggressive qualifying strategy pays dividends

Team WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay believes an aggressive qualifying strategy could prove key to sustaining his TCR Europe title bid at Barcelona this weekend.

The Audi RS 3 LMS showed strong pace during the brace of practice sessions around the 2.8 mile Catalan venue, finishing fifth and fourth respectively.

He trails Mikel Azcona by 19 points heading into the season-concluding double header, with a maximum score of 55 on offer.

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“We’re in the game, we just need to be there in case something happens because I cannot see Azcona behind us in qualifying,” admitted Vernay to

“You can see his pace, he is quick, which is pretty normal because he is leading the championship by 19 points and he is 50kg lighter.

“For the suspense of the championship, I’m not sure I am that happy about it, but it is what it is. The only thing we can do is to try and stay in the fight and if something happens, we need to be there.

“We need to be there with scoring big points.”

“If we can do a top five, that would be great because then at least we can score some points. The best would be to be ahead but again, I don’t see any possibility.”

Vernay also admitted the main problem with the Audi is the weight it carries, making it harder to effect setup changes on the car.

“The main problem with our car is the weight, as soon as we have weight, the car doesn’t react to changes,” he said.

“You can change everything on the car but it doesn’t make it any better and it’s a struggle to be quick. It’s something we’re working on because we’re going to carry that in the WTCR.

“So we’ll see, we’re trying everything to be there and we’ll try to do a good qualifying and first race, but the gap is too big. The CUPRA is the brands of the VAG group which has the most experience. The car is obviously great and they have this weight compensation advantage because I am the only Audi.

“We’re going to try to be aggressive in qualifying and then try to find some way to not have so much tyre degradation, but the track is quite abrasive and long, and we have a lot of weight. It’s not good for the brakes or anything, but we have some clever people in the team so I hope they will find the magic setup.

“If Azcona wins the race, I think I need to finish P2 so it will be difficult. We’ll see how it goes, the Hyundais look very strong so they could be fast tomorrow. We have to put ourselves in the right position to score big points. For Mikel, he is in a stressful [position] but if he doesn’t have any problems, then with 50kg, he has about seven-tenths advantage for free.”

Qualifying in Barcelona is set to get underway at 11:45 CEST.

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