Jay-Kay survived two safety car restarts to claim the victory in Race 2 of the WTCR Race of Morocco after an almost unbelievable race filled with drama from flag to flag.
Race1 winner Gabriele Tarquini snatched the Pole Position on Sunday morning at WTCR AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco in the qualifying shoot-out.
The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil drivers left the Qualifying sessions in very different mood: thanks to the reverse grid format, Frenchman Vernay (9th in Q2) was confident to start from the front row in Race 2; for less than a tenth of a second, on his side Gordon Shedden (11th) was obliged to start both Sunday races from the middle of a fully packed grid.
The reverse-grid Race 2 was scheduled to start at 16:45 local time, with the Pepe Oriola's Cupra and Jean-Karl Vernay’s Audi RS 3 LMS ready to strike.
The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil driver got the best start and charged ahead, sneaking his way ahead of several other cars. Oriola responded and hit the Audi, but Vernay was able to power out of the long turn and maintain his lead, the Audi RS 3 LMS fortunately avoiding any serious damage,
Bennani chased the Audi RS 3 LMS of Vernay all the way to the flag, but the Frenchman remained in the front despite two safety car periods, never giving any of his rivals a chance to pass on the tight 2.90 km Circuit Moulay El Hassan.
Team OSCARO by Campos Racing driver Oriola held on to third place and a podium finish despite race-long pressure from Yann Ehrlacher, who made up two places at the start to claim fourth. Tom Coronel completed the top 10, with Gordon Shedden just out of the points in 11th.
Race 3 was another tense affair as both Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil drivers battled hard throughout. Frantic action saw Vernay collect ninth place and more valuable points for his championship challenge. Brake pads issues dismissed Shedden to collect a result reflecting his potential of the day before.
#69 Jean-Karl ' Jay Kay ' VERNAY:
“I’m really happy! The start was a little bit tight. I took a risk because I wanted to win this race, to prove to my team they took the right choice in signing me. The car was really fantastic and I was able to finish first without any trouble. I’m really happy for the team, they did a mega job all weekend."
#52 Gordon ' Flash ' SHEDDEN:
“The end of a frustrating weekend here, we had a lot of potential coming in to the weekend but we just didn’t quite get the job done in Qualifying and it’s very hard to overtake around here. Race 2 and 3 were tough but we had a good result yesterday and there seems to be some pace in the car, we’ll work on the car and come out fighting next round.”
WTCR 2018 Afriquia Race of Morocco
circuit: Moulay El Hassan
1 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 1’24.392
2 - Tarquini / ITA / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 1’24.442
3 - Michelisz / HUN / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 1’24.519
9 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 1’24.910
11 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 1’25.151
Race 2 (top 10 positions after Second Qualifying reversed):
1 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 20 Laps
2 - Bennani / MOR / Sebastian Loeb Racing / VW Golg GTi / +0.890
3 - Oriola / SPA / Campos Racing / Cupra TCR / +2.380
11 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +15.386
Race 3 (grid as per combined order after Q3):
1 - Tarquini / ITA / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 23 Laps
2 - Muller / FRA / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / +2.524
3 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / +2.922
9 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +10.743
NC - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS /
Drivers’ World Standing :
1 - Tarquini / 62 p.
2 - Bjork / 51 p.
3 - Vernay / 41 p.
12 - Shedden / 12 p.
Teams’ World Standing :
1 - BRC Racing / 86 p.
2 - MRacing YMR / 82 p.
3 - Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / 56 p.
Photo credit: DPPI