Frédéric Vervisch admitted that he was ‘surprised’ to have had good pace in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Slovakia, as the Audi driver beat the Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua to the win.
Vervisch made the most of an eventful opening lap to work his way into second by the end of the first tour, despite some contact from behind at Turn 3.
The Belgian then pounced on early leader Ma for the lead after a safety car period on lap five, before comfortably claiming his and Audi’s first WTCR win of the year by a margin of almost three seconds.
The 32-year-old Belgian admitted that he was surprised with the pace he had in the conditions, which saw the race take place on a drying circuit with the field running on slick rubber.
“It’s a great race, a great result,” said Vervisch, who has moved up to sixth in the drivers’ standings as a result. “The start was great, [I had] a great first lap.
“At Turn 3 we were lucky, because I got a hit from behind, but I didn’t go off. Then we just had great pace in the car.
“Maybe we took a bit more risk than the others because there was slight rain drizzling, and here when you go off, you go off – the sand pits are bad.
“Then it was just a matter of keeping the pace and I am surprised that we had good pace.”
Vervisch praised Ma for ‘fair driving’ in the battle for the lead, with the Chinese driver not making contact as the duo battled for first.
“He was a bit quicker on the straight but in the fast corners the car was really good and there I could put him under some pressure.
“He was very fair when I tried to overtake him. I think he also realised to just save a podium.
“It’s a great result.”