Leading WTCR driver Jean Karl Vernay has taken a commanding victory in Race 1 of the carsales TCR Australia Series at Queensland Raceway today.
JK Vernay came and conquered at Queensland Raceway with a perfect start to his guest appearance in the carsales TCR Australia Series.
The Frenchman proved why he is a highly-rated factory Audi driver as he gave a driving lesson to the Australian TCR hopefuls, qualifying on pole position and then converting a textbook start into an easy win in his pocket-rocket RS3.
Championship hopeful Dylan O’Keefe was a solid second in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta and racey veteran Russell Ingall scored his first podium placing since he retired from Supercars when he dashed home in third with a second Audi RS3.
The big loser at QR was title leader Will Brown who was involved in a first-lap skirmish, lost a lap to replace a flat tyre, and was finally hit with a drive-through penalty after short-cutting the course while limping back to the pits.
“The most important thing was the start. That was 90 per cent of the race,” Vernay said after his lights-to-flag drive to victory.
“I was just focussed on racing and making it fun. And I like the track. It is not the most exciting track in Australia but it is still entertaining.”
“This is great,” said Ingall.
O’Keefe was happy to reduce the margin to championship leader Brown, who had the worst race of his season.
“The aim this weekend was to bounce back. I don’t wish bad luck on anyone but it was pretty good when I saw him take out John Martin,” said O’Keefe.
Martin had started his Honda Civic Type R alongside Vernay and when the Frenchman wobbled on the first lap he looked to capitalise in Turn 6 onto the front straight.
But Brown was also looking to overtake in his Hyundai i30 N and the pair tangled, both suffering damage, taking much of the sting out of the battle.
“I was told I could block on the first lap. I made a mistake so I was covering into the corner,” reported Vernay.
“Vernay was blocking to the outside so I stuck my nose inside,” said Martin.
“Someone came from out on the dirt and drove into the back of me. I didn’t know he was there. More damage, just the usual stuff with my TCR campaign.”
“I poked my nose in. There was not much I could do. I tried to get out onto the dirt to miss them,” said Brown.
“The tyre was coming off the car, so it was worth a drive-through to short-cut back to the pits and not ruin the car.”
With the battle pack split by the incident, it was left to O’Keefe and Tony D’Alberto in the second Honda Civic to provide the excitement, although the Alfa drive was running with a handicap.
“The engine was too hot and I lost a bit of power. Luckily Tony made a mistake under pressure,” said O’Keefe.
That mistake was a spin a turn one, which dropped him back to fourth place at the finish.
“I just lost the rear on turn-in at Turn One. I couldn’t catch it,” said D’Alberto.
“Rookie error. No excuse.”
James Moffat drove from the pitlane to ninth after a mechanical problem with his Renault Megane before the start, while Andre Heimgartner’s miserable season continued when the engine blew in his Holden Astra – a replacement for the Subaru WRX he had previously driven – in qualifying. He plans to be back in action on Sunday for the final two races of the QR weekend.
RESULTS, RACE 1
|1||4||Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||27:20.4629|
|2||9||Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||21||27:28.4149|
|3||100||Russell Ingall (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||27:29.0341|
|4||50||Tony D’Alberto (Vic)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||27:32.8063|
|5||7||Jordan Cox (NSW)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||21||27:33.7588|
|6||2||Aaron Cameron (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagen Golf GTI||21||27:34.2892|
|7||11||Nathan Morcom (NSW)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||21||27:35.3705|
|8||62||Alex Rullo (WA)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||21||27:41.8156|
|9||34||James Moffat (Vic)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||21||27:44.8122|
|10||8||Jason Bright (Vic)||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagon Golf GTI||21||27:47.7425|
|11||35||Alexandra Whitley (Qld)||Alliance Autosport||Volkswagon Golf GTI||21||27:50.1770|
|12||38||Jordan Michels (NZ)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||27:54.4866|
|13||3||Leanne Tander (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||27:57.4687|
|14||6||Molly Taylor (NSW)||Kelly Racing||Subaru WRX STi||21||28:10.0175|
|15||24||John Martin (NSW)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||20||27:53.2340|
|16||30||William Brown (Qld)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||20||28:26.4431|
|DNF||777||Andre Heimgartner (NZ)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||16||21:16.1908|