3 August 2019 | Featured

JK Vernay secures Astrontech pole in tight qualifying session

Audi interloper JK Vernay has hit the first target for his flying Australian visit by claiming pole position for the carsales TCR Australia Series round at Queensland Raceway.

The French factory driver only landed Down Under on Thursday but was quickly into stride, triumphing in a four-way fight for top slot on the grid for the first of three 30-minute races in Brisbane.

He hustled his Audi RS3 to a best time of 1 minute 12.9418 seconds as the top seven qualifiers were covered by just two-tenths of a second.

John Martin finished second by just 0.0060 of a second in his Honda Civic Type R with championship leader Will Brown third in his Hyundai i30 N, just 0.0479 behind Vernay.

“We’re on pole and that was the target. Now we need to improve the car for the race,” says Vernay.

He knows he could be in trouble when he starts from the dirty side of the QR circuit with Martin, who has the fast-starting Honda, alongside him.

“I thought we would be on the second row so this is a good result. I was right on the limit,” says Martin.

“I hope I’m going to lead into Turn 1, that’s the plan, and then I’ll be driving the widest Honda you’ve ever seen.”

Brown admitted  a mistake on his quickest lap but was happy to run third.

“My car was good. I was a bit shit in the last corner and it cost me a tenth,” he says.

“But it’s going to be a dogfight in the race. We won’t let the Frenchy beat us.”

But Vernay has bad news for the pursuing pack, as he believes there is still 3-4 tenths left in his Audi in qualifying trim, and he is prepared with extra tweaking to ensure the car is kind to its Michelin tyres through the 30-minute sprint.

“We will make a few changes for the race. Then we will see,” he says.

The battle for pole was the most torrid qualifying yet in the TCR Australia series, with Martin, Brown and Dylan O’Keefe all taking a turn at the top before Vernay uncorked his final qualifier.

O’Keefe was the early pace-setter in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta but was the loser at the end, as he wound up fourth and just ahead of Russell Ingall in his second guest-star run in an Audi RS3.

 Qualifying, Queensland Raceway

Pos Num Driver Team Car Time Gap
1    4 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA)  Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:12.9418
2   24 John Martin (NSW)       Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:12.9478 00.0060
3   30 William Brown (Qld)     HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         1:12.9897 00.0479
4    9 Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)    Ashley Seward Motorsport       Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1:12.9924 00.0506
5  100 Russell Ingall (Qld)    Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:13.0536 00.1118
6   50 Tony D’Alberto (Vic)    Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:13.1198 00.1780
7    2 Aaron Cameron (Vic)     Melbourne Performance Centre   Volkswagen Golf GTI  1:13.1395 00.1977
8    7 Jordan Cox (NSW)        Garry Rogers Motorsport        Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1:13.2240 00.2822
9   34 James Moffat (Vic)      Garry Rogers Motorsport        Renault Megane RS    1:13.3833 00.4415
10 777 Andre Heimgartner (NZ)  Kelly Racing                   Subaru WRX STi       1:13.4765 00.5347
11  11 Nathan Morcom (NSW)     HMO Customer Racing            Hyundai i30N         1:13.5494 00.6076
12  62 Alex Rullo (WA)         Kelly Racing                   Holden Astra         1:13.6128 00.6710
13   3 Leanne Tander (Vic)     Melbourne Performance Centre   Audi RS 3            1:13.9752 01.0334
14  33 Chris Pither (NZ)       Garry Rogers Motorsport        Renault Megane RS    1:14.1699 01.2281
15   8 Jason Bright (Vic)      Taskforce / Alliance Autosport Volkswagon Golf GTI  1:14.4994 01.5576
16  38 Jordan Michels (NZ)     Wall Racing                    Honda Civic Type R   1:14.7237 01.7819
17  35 Alexandra Whitley (Qld) Alliance Autosport             Volkswagon Golf GTI  1:14.9432 02.0014
18   6 Molly Taylor (NSW)      Kelly Racing                   Subaru WRX STi       1:15.3845 02.4427