Melbourne Performance Centre’s Jean-Karl Vernay claimed Audi’s first pole position in TCR Australia at Queensland Raceway, his time of 1 minute 12.941 seconds narrowly beating Wall Racing driver John Martin by six thousandths of a second.
The Frenchman is taking part in his first TCR Australia race, and was quick to come to terms with the deceptively difficult 3.13km Queensland circuit.
Ashley Seward Motorsports Dylan O’Keeffe set the early pace, at 1 minute 13.837 seconds, going faster than any time seen in practice.
O’Keeffe’s time stood for ten minutes before being beaten first by Vernay, and subsequently Martin, and championship standings leader HMO Customer Racing’s Will Brown.
A number of drivers then headed to pitlane with 11 minutes to go in order to strap on a set of fresh tyres and have one last shot at the pole. O’Keefe’s strategy differed, only taking new front tyres as other pole challengers took a full set.
With five minutes to go Brown set the first lap in the 1 minute 12 second lap, but his hold on pole was brief as Martin went quicker by less than half a tenth.
Then with two minutes left on the clock, 2017 TCR International champion Vernay toppled Martin’s time by six thousandths to take pole for race one.
Martin will line up second, looking to continue the form that saw him win the last round at the Bend Motorsport Park.
Championship leader Brown lines up in third, with a time of 1 minute 12.989 seconds, only 0.047 seconds off Vernays pole time.
Early pacesetter O’Keeffe was able to better his time to take fourth on the grid, and meaning the first four spots were claimed by different manufacturers.
Russell Ingall will line up fifth, the first driver over a tenth slower than Melbourne Performance Centre teammate Vernay. The 2005 V8 Supercars champion showing improved pace in his second entry into TCR Australia.
Wall Racing’s Tony D’Alberto will complete the third row with a time of 1 minute 12.119 seconds, nearly two tenths slower than teammate Martin.
Melbourne Performance Centre’s Aaron Cameron was the fastest Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR car in seventh, just within two tenths of Vernay’s pole time.
Jordan Cox will line up eighth on the grid, his time of 1 minute 13.223 seconds was nearly two tenths faster than Garry Rogers Motorsport teammate James Moffat who lines up in ninth.
Kelly Racing’s Andre Heimgartner rounds out the top ten, and was the fastest Astra on the grid, setting a time of 1 minute 13.475 seconds.
Team Tradie’s Jason Bright could only manage 15th, some 1.557seconds off Vernay’s pole after the 46 year old was in the pitlane for the first half of the session as mechanics rushed to solve an actuator issue.
|1||4||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||17||1:12.942||0.000|
|2||24||John MARTIN||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||14||1:12.948||0.006|
|3||30||Will BROWN||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||17||1:12.990||0.048|
|4||9||Dylan O’KEEFFE||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||16||1:12.992||0.050|
|5||100||Russell INGALL||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||1:13.054||0.112|
|6||50||Tony D’ALBERTO||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||1:13.120||0.178|
|7||16||Aaron CAMERON||Melbourne Performance||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||15||1:13.140||0.198|
|8||38||Jordan COX||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||18||1:13.224||0.282|
|9||34||James MOFFAT||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||17||1:13.383||0.441|
|10||777||Andre HEIMGARTNER||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||14||1:13.477||0.535|
|11||11||Nathan MORCOM||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||14||1:13.549||0.607|
|12||62||Alex RULLO||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra TCR||12||1:13.613||0.671|
|13||3||Leanne TANDER||Melbourne Performance||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||15||1:13.975||1.033|
|14||33||Chris PITHER||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Mégane RS TCR||14||1:14.170||1.228|
|15||8||Jason BRIGHT||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||1:14.499||1.557|
|16||38||Jordan MICHELS||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R TCR||18||1:14.724||1.782|
|17||35||Alexandra WHITLEY||Alliance Autosport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||1:14.943||2.001|
|18||6||Molly TAYLOR||Kelly Racing||Subaru WRX STi||17||1:15.385||2.443|