Frédéric Vervisch admitted that he was ‘shocked’ with the turnaround in form he experienced from Saturday to Sunday in the FIA WTCR in Marrakech, going from struggling to make the top 15 to a first podium of the year.
Vervisch qualified 25th and second-last in Saturday’s first qualifying session, before going on to finish race one outside the points in 17th.
But a dramatic overnight change in form occurred, with Vervisch then claiming pole position in Sunday’s three-part qualifying session. The Belgian took points in the reverse-grid second race, before finishing second in race three after losing out at the start.
The Comtoyou Racing driver lost out at the start of race three when he had a last-minute steering wheel issue, which he couldn’t fully resolve, causing him to drop to third when the lights went out.
Thereafter he couldn’t challenge Björk at the front in a race which saw little overtaking action, benefitting only when early leader Yvan Muller retired.
“I didn’t expect this pole position, this pace we had,” admitted Vervisch. “I’m not many times overwhelmed, but I was kind of shocked – in a good way.
“I’m extremely happy because we recovered from a not so great day. From pole position here you win the race if you make a good start and you don’t break down, which is difficult here with the brakes and so on.
“Before the start we had a steering problem. We tried to get a new steering wheel, but we ran out of time, so I had to hope it worked and it didn’t on the out lap. So I switched everything off, I had to slow down and everyone had to stay behind me and it was still rolling.
“Then suddenly it worked again, so I said ‘okay, let’s try’. But at the start I didn’t have the normal things I should have, and I didn’t move at the start.
“I’m happy that we finished the race and second place is the best in the situation, and we have points.
“It’s a long championship and we all know you need points to win the championship, so let’s see from there.
Vervisch was also cautious due to concerns over brake wear, with fellow Audi driver Jean-Karl Vernay suffering a high-speed accident late in the race when his front brakes failed.
“I tried to put on some pressure, but of course I had to think about my own car as well. As you saw, JK had a brake failure as well, [Nicky] Catsburg had a brake failure, so everyone had this issue.
“You cannot go 100 per cent. I had to cool down the car as much as possible and not lose too much pace, so that’s a difficult exercise.
“I think we were lucky it was not so hot. I think last year it was much hotter. My primary concern was to finish the race.”
Vervisch leaves Morocco fifth overall in the drivers’ championship standings with 32 points.