Jean-Karl Vernay: off to concquer America! The 2010 season marks a turning point in Jean-Karl Vernay's career. He is going to race on the other side of the Atlantic in the Indy Lights Championship, which acts as a feeder series for the top ...
Jean-Karl Vernay: off to concquer America!
The 2010 season marks a turning point in Jean-Karl Vernay's career. He is going to race on the other side of the Atlantic in the Indy Lights Championship, which acts as a feeder series for the top category, Indy Racing League - rather like the GP2 Series for Formula 1. The young driver from Lyon is taking another step in his move up the ladder to the top of motor sport, as well as discovering another racing culture.
Vernay's second place in the Macau F3 Grand Prix last November led to a lot of very positive media coverage. He found himself faced with the choice of several opportunities on three continents, and he finally chose the American option with the CJ Motorsport management team. "First of all, we went to the Miami-Homestead oval to test with Sam Schmidt Motorsport. Then without really modifying my European habits and my driving style, I set the lap record for the category on the Palm Beach road circuit. A few days later, I signed with the team."
Vernay has already had enough time to realize that the car, the circuits and the working methods are a whole new world for him! But a good driver has to know how to adapt. The runner-up in the Intercontinental Formula 3 Cup rapidly got to grips with the super-challenging Macau track that really sorts the men from the boys! This new change of scenery does not daunt him in the slightest. "The Indy Lights cars are twice as powerful as an F3. On the Speedways we lap at around 190 mph (over 300 km/h). You ask yourself a few questions in the first fifteen laps, and then you just go flat out. Finding the right speed is very tricky; you have to brush the walls, but I think the most difficult thing to get used to is racing when the cars are all bunched up."
The tests at the end of February in the Barber Motorsports Park (Alabama), confirmed that Jean-Karl has what it takes to play a leading role in Indy Lights, all the more so as his team, Sam Schmidt Motorsport, is the most titled outfit in the championship. It has already scored thirty victories, and is tackling the 2010 season determined to add a fourth driver's title to those of 2004, 2006 and 2007.
There are thirteen events on the calendar representing a good balance between the different types of circuits. There are five speedways including the legendary Indianapolis Brickyard where the Indy Lights are the curtain raisers for the 500 Miles. Among the four road courses is Watkins Glen (New York state), that hosted 20 F1 grand prix between 1961 and 1980. Finally, there are four city circuits, among them Long Beach in California, which hosted eight USA-West F1 Grand Prix between 1976 and 1983. Frenchman Vernay has always been at home on street circuits as his pole in Pau, his podium at the Norisring and his Macau result prove.
The first race is in the streets of Saint Petersburg on 27th/28th March on a circuit on which Sam Schmidt Motorsport has scored a record three victories. "One of the difficulties will be to learn the track in just one hour's free practice. The team's very proactive so I'm feeling pretty confident," smiles Jean-Karl!
-source: didier/future racing