Audi’s improved race pace comes as welcome ‘surprise’ to Frédéric Vervisch

It’s been a start to forget for Comtoyou Racing’s four Audi drivers in 2021, but Frederic Vervisch finally gave the team something to celebrate when he took victory in the FIA World Touring Car Cup feature race at Motorland Aragon this afternoon.

The victory also serves as the very first for the new, second generation of Audi RS3 TCR, which up to now has struggled significantly with its Balance of Performance restrictions. Now that those have been updated, however, the car seems perfectly competitive – as Vervisch was keen to point out:

“I have to thank our team, the brand Audi, the new car that Gilles [Magnus] proved [the potential of] as well.” he said after the race.

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“Congrats to him and to Thed [Bjork]. I’m extremely happy to convert a pole position [into a win].”

As an onlooker, lights-to-flag victories such as the one driven by Vervisch this afternoon often look relatively straightforward, but like every other racing driver, the Belgian assures us that that is not the case.

“From the outside it looks all easy,” he said. “But I can tell you there was again a lot of tension to have the good start. 

“You have nobody in front of you, so it’s always a bit different. But the start was mega and Thed was quite fast. He told me he had one opportunity, maybe there was another one where he could really try something. 

“But I think after a couple of laps I just had a small gap and I was hoping that Gilles would put some pressure on him and probably he did, I’m not sure.

“Anyway, the gap was there, so I was not happy with the safety car! The restart was actually bad, but it was at the end good because it was strange. I think there was a lot of pick-up that I didn’t notice and I think everybody was surprised.”

Despite the lack of grip, Vervisch drove a textbook race to take the win, and was pleasantly surprised with how capable the car felt after such a difficult first few rounds of development.

“I was surprised by our race pace because it was a big struggle for me throughout the whole season and for us in general,” he explained. “But yes, we did it, I’m very happy and thanks again to my team. They deserve it.”

Comtoyou Racing will be hoping that this is only the start of an upturn in form for their team, as there’s still plenty of work to do before they can even get involved in conversations about the championship. 

As it stands, Nathanael Berthon is their best-placed driver in tenth place overall with 51 points – 32 behind series leader Jean-Karl Vernay. 

Up next, the newly-refurbished Adria Raceway plays host to round four of the FIA World Touring Car Cup. Marking the halfway point of the season, it will be important to score well at the Italian circuit. However, as it is a brand new venue for the championship, it’s near-impossible to predict whether Audi will have the right car to come out on top. 

Nevertheless, if this weekend is anything to go by, the German marque’s early season woes should now be behind them. 

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