PRESS RELEASE/TCR Australia – Photo: Velocity Magazine (John Morris)
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 Audi RS 3.
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.
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.
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 seemed unable to make move. He was able to get past D’Alberto when he made a mistake at Turn 1, dropping to fourth.
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.
Two races will be held tomorrow, with the live, free and HD broadcast on SBS, or live streamed on the Velocity Magazine website.
Jean Karl Vernay – Driver, #4 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi
“It was a great race,” said J.K Vernay.
“I focussed on making a good start and a good first lap as it’s always difficult to warm up the rear tyres and it’s easy to make mistakes, but everything went as planned. “Thanks to Audi Sport and the Melbourne Performance Centre team, the car was beautiful to drive and I’m very happy to be involved with TCR Australia.”
Dylan O’Keeffe – Driver, #9 Ashley Seward Motorsport Alfa Romeo
“We really put our head down as a team today and put our best foot forward to close the gap to Will Brown in the standings, the plan is to keep chipping away at the lead in each race,” said Dylan O’Keeffe.
“The cars in TCR have different strengths and weaknesses, so it’s really tricky to pick an overtaking spot.
“My car is fast down the straights, but I started to lose some engine power, so I tried to get some clean air so I could come back and mess with Tony D’Alberto, ultimately at Turn 1 he lost the rear of the car and cracked under pressure I feel, so I got past him and drove it home to the finish.”
Russell Ingall – Driver, #100 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi
“It’s been a while between drinks,” said Russell Ingall.
“I knew how tough the competition is and to have the first five cars within one tenth of a second shows the strength in this category so early, and they were fast times to do 1:12s around this track, only a couple of seconds off a Supercar.
“We had good pace which was encouraging, the frenchman JK took off into the distance and won which was great for the team.
“The track temperature came up in the late afternoon and as soon as you got stuck behind another car you lost a lot of front grip so I had to drop back a couple of times, cool the tyres and have another go, but at the end of the day i’m happy to get third in this field.
“You can see the other teams are starting to get their heads around the setups, it’s only going to get better and more competitive.”
Thanks to our Photo Sponsor for round four of the TCR Australia Series
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