Jean-Karl Vernay completed a memorable weekend for the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO with victory in the third of three races at Zandvoort where 110,000 fans – and Dutch Formula One star Max Verstappen – were in attendance.
Vernay’s Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team was forced into an overnight engine change following the Frenchman’s fifth place finish in Race 1 on Sunday. But Vernay, who was penalised by starting Race 2 from the back of the grid, repaid his team’s hard work by claiming the DHL Pole Position for Race 3 on Monday morning and then converted his top start spot into a victory later in the day.
After Yann Ehrlacher took the Race 1 laurels at WTCR Race of Netherlands, it was the turn of his fellow Frenchman Aurélien Comte to savour the limelight with his maiden victory in Race 2 to become the eighth different winner of 2018 following a brilliant drive.
Comte, in a DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCR, was second in Race 1 ahead of Rob Huff and Gordon Shedden but went one better in Race 2 by beating James Thompson’s Honda Civic Type R TCR off the line in the reverse-grid counter. It means five customer racing brands have now won in WTCR OSCARO. Ehrlacher finished second after being handed the place by his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team-mate Thompson to boost his title bid.
Huff was back on the podium in Race 3, taking his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR to second place ahead of Frédéric Vervisch, who hit back from a double driveshaft failure to claim third spot for Audi Sport Team Comtoyou.
Ehrlacher, the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver of the event and TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy recipient for his rapid lap in Race 1, now heads the drivers’ championship by nine points over Yvan Muller, his uncle and the most successful driver in touring car history.
But while Ehrlacher celebrated, Muller endured a weekend to forget with the Hyundai i30 N TCR unable to match its early-season pace following adjustments to the Balance of Performance. Muller’s YMR team also faced a lengthy repair job to get the veteran racer back on track for Race 2 after he came off worse in a collision with Norbert Michelisz.
Dutch WTCR regular Tom Coronel scored a weekend-high of seventh in Race 1 as Pepe Oriola settled for fourth in Race 2 ahead of Mehdi Bennani. Esteban Guerrieri battled through to fourth in Race 3 with Shedden fifth. Wildcard Prince Bernhard van Oranje completed all three races.
Photos FIA WTCR