The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team lived a frustrating round last weekend in Slovakia. Vernay & Shedden struggled with breaking issue and then involved in a pile-up. Jay Kay took the podium in Race1 and remained fifth in the standings with a 36 points deficit for 348 points still to gain.
BRC Racing’s teammates Tarquini and Michelisz dominated Friday’s WTCR Qualifying session that determined the grid positions for Saturday’s Race 1 at the Slovakia Ring. The rest of the field never got closer than nine tenths to the leading pair, with Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil duo, Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden, rounded off the Top10 also due to the added weight for the compensation.
Race1 started on Saturday at 12:00 (CET). The starting grid had been reshuffled after three out of four Hyundai cars had been excluded for a technical infringement and they dropped to the back. Oriola claimed the victory in an authoritative way with Jean-Karl Vernay and Tarquini completed the podium. The Frenchman took a great start and able to overtake three cars for a nice move.
On Saturday afternoon Michelisz topped all three stages of WTCR Qualifying; the Hungarian emerged as the fastest from Q1 leaping on the top of the timesheet, but gaps were slim, with the top 17 covered by less than eight tenths of a second.
Race2 started at 19:00 (CET): it was a lights-to-flag victory for Tarquini, his fourth success in the season. He also retook the leadership in the Drivers’ championship, three points clear of Yvan Muller who finished third behind an impressive Norbert Nagy. Behind them, however, there were close and tough battles for the other positions, with plenty of overtaking moves and contacts. Unfortunately, Race2 saw Shedden and Vernay retired for a braking issue.
Michelisz broke his duck in WTCR, claiming his first victory in Race3 at the Slovakia Ring after a giant pile-up on the first lap decimated the field, involving about ten cars. When the race resumed on Lap 5, nine drivers were missing: among them the Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil duo, Vernay & Shedden, which broke the rear suspension in the incident.
Despite being out of the race, JayKay remained fifth in the standings with 166 points, as Flash in 12th with 70 points. The WTCR will resume at Ningbo (China), on 29-30 September race weekend.
#69 Jean-Karl VERNAY:
“Saturday was pretty good, a good Qualifying and a great race. Just a really good start and I was able to overtake three cars then a nice move around the outside to get some more positions. That was really great and I was able to finish P2 which is great for the Championship. The car was awesome, even with the added weight for the compensation. We were pretty optimistic but then we had some braking issues in Qualifying and we couldn't get into the top ten. Without this issue I think the top five was possible, so that was frustrating. Race2 saw us retire with a braking issue, no brakes. Race3 we had a much better start and I was up to P6 or P7 and I got hit behind very hard which broke the rear suspension, ending the race. It's a big big disappoint. We scored some big points and then nothing. A mixed weekend where we could have done much better. It is what it is and some of our rivals had some troubles so we didn't lose that much.”
#52 Gordon SHEDDEN:
“The most frustrating weekend here in Slovakia, obviously not the results we want but we are a team, we work together as a team and we'll stay together and push forward together. For sure we’ll have a better weekend in China.”
WTCR DRIVERS’ STANDING:
1 - Tarquini/ 202 p.
2 - Muller / 199 p.
3 - Michelisz / 176 p.
4 - Ehrlacher / 171 p.
5 - Vernay / 166 p.
12 - Shedden / 70 p.
WTCR TEAMS’ STANDING:
1 - MRacing - YMR / 342 p.
2 - BRC Racing Team / 302 p.
3 - All-inkl Motorsport / 295 p.
4 - Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team / 230 p.
5 - Sebastien Loeb Racing / 207 p.
> A podium but bittersweet taste at the Slovakiaring