On the legendary German track which is huge test for world touring car racers, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team duo Jean-Karl Vernay & Gordon Shedden, who made a impressive performance in Race1 ending in 5th and 7th respectively.
The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to the Nürburgring Nordschleife for the third event of the all-action season. Measuring 25.3 km in length and with a succession of climbs, dips and 64 heart-stopping turns to tackle, the Nordschleife is a difficult track to race. Three-lap races will decide who will be the King of the Ring, which also features a wildcard appearance by DTM champion René Rast. Four customer racing brands (including Jean-Karl Vernay who won for Audi in Morocco) have won in 2018 so far.
Rast impressed on his series debut at WTCR Race of Germany by topping the wet opening practice session and repeated in the second session too. Jean-Karl Vernay was 4th in FP1 and third fastest in his Audi RS 3 LMS in FP2. His situation was better than his Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team-mate, Gordon Shedden, who suffered a difficult start to his Nordschleife campaign by spinning on his first lap. The Scot had only just begun his out lap when he sustained damage to his Audi at Hatzenbach, forcing him to crawl slowly around the majority of the epic circuit to return his car to the pits for repairs.
In the evening, Thed Björk took the Pole Position after pipping team-mate Yvan Muller to the fastest time in Qualifying 1. WTCR championship leader Gabriele Tarquini looked to be struggling to break into the top 10 during the session, but his final effort lifted him to seventh, ahead of fellow ex-British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden. Flash qualified eighth while his team-mate JayKay closed the Q1 in 12th in his Audi RS 3 LMS.
Race 1 began at 19:45 local time on the distance of three laps. Yvan Muller took his first win of the season at the wheel of the Hyundai i30 N: the Frenchman built his success at the first corner, when he stole the lead from poleman and teammate Thed Björk. Rob Huff drove his Volkswagen Golf GTI to a podium finish, beating by a slim margin Norbert Michelisz, who saved BRC Racing’s day after Gabriele Tarquini went off the track after a contact with Esteban Guerrieri.
On lap 1, the small group of rivals were fighting for the fifth position when the Italian lost his car and crashed. Moments later, Vernay was chased by Rast, while Gordon Shedden overtook Coronel for seventh. The German had lined up P15 after a 10-place grid penalty, incurred for not slowing sufficiently for yellow flags in qualifying. Ring rookie Gordon Shedden completed a strong result for the Audi team with seventh place having also earned a grid penalty for the same reason.
Despite the retirement, Tarquini maintained the lead in the Drivers’ standings with 118 points, with Vernay in 7th and Shedden in 12th. In the Team’s standing, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team is currently 5th with 93 p. Action will resume tomorrow, with the second Qualifying at h 17:35 local time.
Jean-Karl Vernay - 5th:
"It was a pretty good race, especially as Qualifying was a little bit difficult because I was blocked by another driver on my fastest lap which hurt a lot and I couldn't be better than P12. The car was great, I had a great start and a great race to achieve P5, I think it was the best we could achieve. It's big points and I am really happy. Hyundai are definitely out of contention for us but we still did a really good job. P5,6,7 is a good effort from the team. let's see how it goes tomorrow. I'm still learning the track and I understood a lot more things during the race so we will see tomorrow."
Gordon Shedden -7th:
"Today has been a difficult day at the Nurburgring, lots of challenges but the day got better throughout. To start P18 and come through to P7 was fantastic and we did a really fast lap as well so a big increase in confidence for me. Hoping for a strong Friday and Saturday."
Thursday, May 10th:
Free Practice 1: P4 J.K. Vernay; P26 G. Shedden
Free Practice 2 : P3 J.K. Vernay; P25 G. Shedden
1 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 8’58.700
2 - Muller / FRA / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 8’58.779
3 - Michelisz / HUN / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 8’59.065
8 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 9’01.235
12 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / 9’03.038
1 - Muller / FRA / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 3 Laps
2 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / +0.331
3 - Huff / GBR / Sebastien Loeb Racing / VW Golf / +0.853
4 - Michelisz / HUN / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / +1.288
5 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +8.112
6 - Rast / GER / WRT Audi Sport Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +8.581
7 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / Audi RS 3 LMS / +13.468
Friday, May 11th
1 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 8’55.085
2 - Vervisch / BEL / Audi Sport Comtoyou / RS 3 LMS / 8’56.125
3 - Michelisz / HUN / BRC Racing / Hyundai i30 N / 8’56.534
11 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / 8’59.952
15 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / 9’01.702
Saturday, May 12th
1 - Guerrieri / ARG / All-inkl.com / Honda Civic TCR / 3 Laps
2 - Oriola / SPA / Campos Racing / Cupra TCR / +1.148
3 - Vervisch / BEL / Audi Sport Comtoyou / RS 3 LMS / +2.988
7 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / +6.148
8 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / +14.954
1 - Bjork / SWE / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / 3 Laps
2 - Vervisch / BEL / Audi Sport Comtoyou / RS 3 LMS / +0.793
3 - Muller / FRA / MRacing YMR / Hyundai i30 N / +8.947
7 - Vernay / FRA / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / +18.858
14 - Shedden / GBR / Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil / RS 3 LMS / +30.584
DRIVERS’ WORLD STANDING:
1 - Y. Muller / 137 points
2 - G. Tarquini / 118 p.
3 - T. Bjork / 112 p.
4 - N. Michelisz / 102 p.
5 - Y. Ehrlacher / 91 p.
6 - R. Huff / 82 p.
7 - E. Guerrieri / 74 p.
8 - J.K. Vernay / 74 p.
14 - G. Shedden / 24 p.
TEAMS’ WORLD STANDING:
1 - MRacing - YMR / 261 points
2 - BRC Racing Team / 227 p.
3 - All-inkl Motorsport / 169 p.
4 - Sebastien Loeb Racing / 137 p.
5 - Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team / 106 p.