JK Vernay, first French Indy Lights Champion!
He's done it! When the green flag unleashed the pack on the Miami-Homestead oval, it was a red-letter day for Jean-Karl Vernay. The mere fact of starting the race gave him the Indy Lights Championship title in his first season on American soil. It is a well-deserved success when one thinks of the number of pitfalls that awaited him on every new circuit. The Frenchman from Villeurbanne put on a stunning performance, and led the championship from start to finish as well as displaying panache on numerous occasions. Hats off JK!
Paradoxically, he was awarded the title after a race to forget. An engine problem blew his chances of a good result in Florida, but when the prizes were handed out his mind was elsewhere. Preparation for the 2011 season is already under way with the aim of arriving at the summit of American single- seater racing. "With CJ Motorsport, my management team, we're in contact with several teams to move up to the Indy Car series in 2011. The ideal would be to do a full programme. Things are progressing and the first tests are scheduled for January or February." Another Frenchman in the Indy 500? Five had tried their luck in the last ten events with Sébastien Bourdais's twelfth place in 2005 as the best result.
In the South Beach hotel, several trophies were awarded to Vernay: the 2010 championship trophy, the Rookie of the Year award, best driver on road and street circuits, and his five victories gave him the prize for the highest number of first places. It was just the right time to evoke his very successful first season's highlights. 'I'd say Saint Petersburg first of all, as it was so important to win the first race. I had a twenty-one second lead when the safety car came out with fifteen minutes to go to the flag, and I opened a fresh gap of eleven seconds in the last ten minutes. In Toronto I won on James Hinchcliffe's home turf after setting pole. Finally, at Sonoma in the presence of my family I was delighted to bag pole, fastest time in the warm up and win as well as setting the fastest lap on this very tricky circuit." The pass he pulled on Hinchcliffe, which gave him victory at Watkins Glen, wasn't too bad either!
"I'd like to thank the Sam Schmidt Motorsport team, my sponsor Lucas Oil, CJ Motorsport and the FFSA for its support." JK will be 23 years old on 31st October, and will probably celebrate his birthday in France thinking ahead to a new American dream!