Rob Huff, Andy Priaulx and Jean-Karl Vernay attended the Second Qualifying press conference at WTCR Race of Macau. A transcript follows.
FIA WTCR Race of Macau
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of 30, Circuito da Guia, 14-17 November
Rob Huff, SLR VW Motorsport, DHL Pole Position
Andy Priaulx, Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, second position
Jean-Karl Vernay, Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport, third position
Rob, you’ve won in Macau nine times and now you’ve got nine poles here, which is a fantastic achievement and congratulations for that. But please can you explain how you achieved that incredible time?
First of all, thank you to SLR Volkswagen Motorsport. To turn the car around and give me that car for this afternoon… we had a few problems this morning, we found a broken damper. We obviously got that back but the confidence was quite down after that First Qualifying. It’s never easy, we did a lot of analysing to find out what the problem was and then of course you’ve only got a few laps to build the confidence back up and at Mandarin when you’re doing 240kph it’s not exactly the most confidence-inspiring corner. But we got it back and the Q2 lap I did, the 27.9, was a bit of a special one. The car was brilliant you know. We had quite good positioning, JK was just behind and I just managed to get a really good run through sector two and three and of course that’s what counted. I managed to achieve the lap, which is fantastic, then I obviously got the [starting order] choice for Q3. I didn’t do a perfect lap but I did a lap that was strong enough. I think only Andy got quite close towards the end, he was half a second up but then the dropped sixth-tenths in one sector and I knew it was all in the last two corners. They looked pretty strong on the telly but it was close between us. It’s great for us as Brits having Andy up here and congratulations to both Andy and Jean-Karl.
You were a double DHL pole-sitter here last year but you weren’t quite able to convert that into a 10th victory. How confident are you of doing that on Sunday based on your performance today?
We’ve got another opportunity. I’ve won here in cars from P10 on the grid, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s Macau. It’s going to be tough getting down to Lisboa. We’ve got the Audi, which as we know from last year, is seven or eight kph quicker than us in the straight line and the Lynk & Co will be pretty damn strong there as well so it’s going to be difficult, but we just don’t know what’s going to happen. The thing I’m happy for is that the three of us are not in the championship hunt so we can have a proper ding-dong.
Turning next to Andy Priaulx, making it a British 1-2 in Second Qualifying. Was that the best you could do or what didn’t quite go right for you?
It was a really good lap to be honest. I think 99 per cent was where I needed it, but I lost the rear going into Dona Maria and it cost me… it was enough to put me on the back foot. I don’t think there was much more I could have done, I had really nice balance and the track came to me during the whole session. I was P10 at the start of the session but as the grip improved my balance came into the window and it was much better, and I was really happy to be on the front row. Hopefully I can have a good race tomorrow.
Turning finally to Jean-Karl Vernay, the fastest Audi driver this weekend. It’s great to see you back in the mix in qualifying because it’s been a while. How do you explain the transformation?
This year was not the season we wanted, obviously, but we knew it would be in Macau where we would have some potential. First of all because we don’t have so much weight, last year we were already quick because I won Race 1 with 60 kilos of ballast. This year I only have 10 so it makes us strong. This morning was bad with the puncture but we knew we had the pace to really fight and I thought we did against drivers with a lot of experience here. I had a lot of fun, to be honest, I was always smiling. This track is amazing, it’s my favourite track, I’ve always had good results. Tomorrow is going to be a chilling day, I would say, but I can’t wait until Sunday and the same like I did last year by taking Rob at the start!