Jean-Karl Vernay rounded off his perfect TCR Europe weekend at
Monza with a second victory and pocketed the maximum score of 55 points over
the two days. With these results, the Leopard Lukoil Team driver definitely
relaunched his hopes in the battle for the title. He has now moved to second in
the standings, 19 points behind Mikel Azcona and 11 ahead of Dušan Borković.
The young Spaniard collected a valuable fifth place, but he’s under investigations for a rough overtaking manoeuvre on Francisco Abreu that ended in a clash, sending the Portuguese into a slide. As for Borković, he retired with a puncture and was then excluded by the whole event for a fight in the paddock after the race.
Teammates Josh Files and Attila Tassi joined Vernay on the podium as they worked together to get the better of a very determined Maxime Potty in the final lap.
Tassi is still in contention for the title fight, but has a massive gap of 41 points to recover; with 55 points on offer in the final event, mathematically Dániel Nagy is yet another contender, although his gap has increased to 50 points after he remained scoreless in Monza. Even Files, 55 points off the leader, has still a chance, but he needs more than a miracle…
Just like in yesterday’s Race 1, the race was packed with incidents, the most serious one happened at the Ascari chicane where Benjamin Lessennes crashed into the barriers after colliding with Abreu. This cost the Portuguese a 30-second penalty that deprived him of a fifth place and sent the young Belgian to the hospital for medical checks with a suspected broken collarbone.
The Stewards are still investigating the collision between Azcona and Abreu and that between Kris Richard and Nicola Baldan.
The final event of the TCR Europe Series will be at Barcelona’s Circuit Catalunya on October 19/21.
Warm up lap – both the Subaru cars of Barberini (power steering) and Russo (driveshaft) return to the pits and retire
Start – Abreu sprints from the pole ahead of Lessennes, Borković, Files, Potty, Vernay, Tassi and Azcona
Lap 1 – Stefanovski drives on the gravel at Lesmo; Vernay overtakes Potty for 5th; Comini and Paulsen retire with a gearbox failure and a broken damper respectively
Lap 2 – Borković jumps over the kerb at the first chicane and forces Lessennes wide; Vernay benefits from the commotion to move up to 2nd; Potty overtakes Files for 3rd
Lap 3 – Vernay takes the lead from Abreu; Borković retires in the pits; Møller and Kroes make contact and the former crashes
Lap 4 – the safety car is deployed
Lap 6 – the race resumes; Azcona overtakes Tassi for 5th
Lap 7 – Abreu and Potty make contact, the Belgian cuts the chicane and moves up to second; Azcona and Abreu collide at Lesmo; Abreu and Lessennes collide at Ascari, Lessennes crashes into the barriers
Lap 8 – the safety car intervenes again
Lap 10 – racing resumes for the two final laps; Terting overtakes Abreu for 5th; Files and Tassi overtake Potty for 2nd and 3rd; Kroes serves the drive through
Lap 11 – Abreu and Azcona overtake Terting for 5th and 6th; Vernay encores yesterday’s victory from Files, Tassi, Potty, Abreu and Azcona, but Abreu is dropped to 21st by a 30-second penalty for his incident with Møller
Jean-Karl Vernay (winner): "It's really a perfect weekend. That's what we wanted to relaunch our title bid and what we sought: a good qualifying and a double win. We knew the car was going to be competitive here, also because we were quite light in success ballast, and it performed perfectly, and the team did a perfect job. My start in Race 2 was much better than yesterday and after a few laps I could take the lead and then it was a matter of staying out of trouble, and there was quite some behind me. Now we go to Barcelona for the final battle, it is going to be very tough and we'll carry success ballast, but we'll give it all.”
Josh Files (second): "Again a good race and a lot of fighting, but everything went well for the team, which was our main objective. With a little bit more of top speed, we could have won, but it's a great result. I had again a nice duel with Potty, but I saw an opportunity in the second chicane and it worked, although I was sideways at exit of the corner. In the closing laps, we did good team work with Attila and we could secure our podium finishes."
Attila Tassi (third): "Although mathematically, both Josh and I still had chances for the Drivers' championship ahead of Monza, the objective really was to score heavy points towards the Teams' standings. We succeded in that, thanks also to the fact that Target wasn't very successful. In the race, I had nice fights with Azcona and Terting, and then with Potty, whom I could pass with some help from Josh. In the final lap, it was really a close fight but I could defend both my position and Josh's."
Attila Tassi’s third place meant that he won the first edition
of the TCR Swiss trophy that was awarded by counting the results from five
events: three of TCR Europe (Zandvoort, Assen and Monza) and one each of TCR
Italy (Imola) and TCR Germany (Red Bull Ring). Tassi scored 91 points, beating
Azcona (81) and Vernay (74).
Giovanni Altoé, the only competitor in the DSG Trophy, needed only to finish today’s race to win the title before the final event at Barcelona.
As for the Teams’ championship Target Competition has seen its advantage cut to seven points over Hell Energy Racing with KCMG, while PCR Sport and Leopard Lukoil Team are third and fourth, 43 and 56 points behind respectively, with 95 points still to be awarded in Spain.
2018 TCR Europe Series – calendar
May – Circuit Paul Ricard, France (International GT Open)
19/21 May – Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands (Jumbo Racing Days) *
9/10 June – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (International GT Open) *
7/8 July – Hungaroring, Hungary (International GT Open) *
18/19 August – TT Circuit Assen, Netherlands (Gamma Racing Days) *
22/23 September – Autodromo di Monza, Italy (International GT Open)
20/21 October – Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, Spain (International GT Open) *