Chicagoland: JK Vernay race report

Pipped at the post! Jean-Karl Vernay's end-of-season target is the Indy Lights Championship title, which he has led since the first event. Another of his aims is to win a race on a speedway. On his third attempt on this type of circuit he came...

Pipped at the post!

Jean-Karl Vernay's end-of-season target is the Indy Lights Championship title, which he has led since the first event. Another of his aims is to win a race on a speedway. On his third attempt on this type of circuit he came home fourth in Chicagoland, 12/100s behind the winner!

The name speedway takes on its full significance at the Chicagoland oval in Illinois, as the two qualifying laps were covered at an average speed of almost 190 mph (305 km/h), slightly quicker than at Indianapolis. Rookie JK qualified in fifth place: "I set the third-best time on my first lap, but ran a bit high on my second."

In 2009, the Chicagoland 100 was an incredibly closely-fought race and this year it was the same story. Vernay held on to fifth at the start and was still there six laps later when Charlie Kimball took off over Gustavo Yacaman's car and somersaulted. Both drivers were unhurt but the field was sent into the pit road to give the officials time to remove the two wrecks. On the restart, JK came under pressure from James Hinchcliffe. The current championship leader and his immediate challenger swapped places on at least five occasions, and overtook Sebastian Saavedra at the one-third distance mark.

JK decided it was time to up the pace, passed `Hinch' and got the better of his team-mate Philip Major. Just in front, Pippa Mann sliced open the right-hand rear tyre on Martin Plowman's car with the left-hand flap of her front wing, and Vernay was in second place when Race Control decided to neutralize the event again. Hinchliffe passed Major just after half distance and went at it hammer and tongs again with Vernay. The Canadian got by on lap 48 and the Frenchman fought back next time round and took second place. Then came the third neutralization and JK was unable to fend off Hinchcliffe as he was blocked behind his team- mate, Pippa Mann. The Canadian took the outer line, and eventually won by 0.0159s from Mann. Philip Major took advantage of the winner's slipstream and pipped JK at the post by a fraction of a second.

"I was right behind Pippa in the final corner and I lost front end grip. I'm disappointed as I had what it took to be on the podium, and why not the win. The positive point is that I've learned a lot in this race. Today, the team advised me to play the safety card. Next time I'll try and play the winning one!" The aptly-named second-last round of the championship is next Saturday, the Drive Smart Buckle-up Kentucky 100.

-source: www.jkvernay.com

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Charlie Kimball , Pippa Mann , James Hinchcliffe , Phillip Major , Sebastian Saavedra , Martin Plowman , Jean-Karl Vernay , Gustavo Yacaman