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Jean-Karl Vernay ‘had the pace for more’ in Macau

WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay says he was ‘proud’ to claim third in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Macau behind Andy Priaulx and Rob Huff, with the Audi driver claiming his first podium visit since April.

Vernay, who took victory in the opening race in 2018, once again showed he had strong pace around the Circuito da Guia, being in the top three throughout free practice, before qualifying in third for the main race.

Although the Frenchman had only qualified in 17th for race one on Saturday, due to a puncture limiting his track time, yielding only 21st in the race after an incident, he took ninth in the reverse-grid second race before delivering a consistent showing in the final race.

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Ultimately the difficulty in overtaking around Macau offered Vernay few chances to pass both Huff and Priaulx in front, and the Audi Sport driver had to settle for third, the first time he has scored such a result in Macau after two seconds in 2016 in the TCR International Series and a win in WTCR last year.

“I’ve never finished third – I’ve always finished first or second here so that’s a new cup,” said Vernay. “I’m proud to be here with these guys with all the world championships they have won.

“This race was very difficult. Everything happened at the start. I made a good one and Andy made a good one.

“I was just stuck behind Rob and that was the key of the race, I would say. It’s hard to overtake someone.

“I had to hope for a safety car and a restart because as everybody knows, the Audi has pretty good top speed and that was my chance.

“They were obviously a bit quicker in sectors two and three, but I’m very proud of my guys. We had some issues in race two and I was not sure we would be able to fix it for race three and to make this podium, here it is very special.”

Vernay believes that he had the pace to fight for an even better result than what he ultimately ended up with at the end of the weekend.

“We were not very lucky with the puncture in the first qualifying, which hindered our chances in race one. I was being quite aggressive and then got blocked in a typical jam…

“The objective though were Sunday’s races, for which we qualified well. The car was going really well, I took very good points in race two despite a [fuel] injector problem.

“In race three, we made a good job, but Huff had a weird start and I got stuck behind him. Then, it was impossible to pass him.

“The podium is an excellent result, although I think we had the pace to fight for more.”

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