2021 will perhaps go down as a missed opportunity for Jean-Karl Vernay and Hyundai. The 34 year old began the year in strong form, leading the points standings for multiple rounds at the beginning of the season. In the end though, three nightmare weekends in Hungary, Czechia and Italy put his early title charge to bed.
Nevertheless, Vernay still had pride to play for at this weekend’s FIA World Touring Car Cup finale in Russia. In both races at the Sochi Autodrom, the Frenchman looked well up for the fight, getting stuck right into the mix for the top positions.
A second place finish in race one was then followed up with fifth in race two, a set of results good enough for him to claim third in the overall drivers’ standings. Not a bad consolation prize after a rollercoaster campaign.
That said, Vernay couldn’t help but rue the fact that a potential win in race one slipped away from him.
“[I made a] very good start and a very good restart [after the safety car],” he said. “But it’s a shame – we were much slower than the others and there was not much I could do.
“I could save a bit of time because they were fighting but the speed on the straight [wasn’t good enough to keep them behind]. They’re much lighter so that also helps with the tyre consumption.
“Frustrating, but at least we finished on the podium on the last weekend [of the season]. The circuit is perfect. I love it.
“We can be frustrated though because the target was to win the championship, but I think finishing third is still a good achievement.”