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3 August 2019 | News

Frenchman takes victory on debut at Queensland Raceway

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

Pos Num Driver Team Car Laps Time
    4 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA)  Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            21 27:20.4629
    9 Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)    Ashley Seward Motorsport       Alfa Romeo Giulietta 21 27:28.4149
  100 Russell Ingall (Qld)    Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            21 27:29.0341
   50 Tony D’Alberto (Vic)    Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   21 27:32.8063
    7 Jordan Cox (NSW)        Garry Rogers Motorsport        Alfa Romeo Giulietta 21 27:33.7588
    2 Aaron Cameron (Vic)     Melbourne Performance Centre   Volkswagen Golf GTI  21 27:34.2892
   11 Nathan Morcom (NSW)     HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         21 27:35.3705
   62 Alex Rullo (WA)         Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         21 27:41.8156
   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