Marrakesh WTCR: Vernay breezes to Race 2 win

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Marrakesh WTCR: Vernay breezes to Race 2 win
By: Jack Cozens
Apr 8, 2018, 4:58 PM

Jean-Karl Vernay cantered to a comfortable win in the the reversed-grid World Touring Car Cup race at Marrakesh from second on the grid, beating home favourite Mehdi Bennani.

Norbert Michelisz, BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
Jean-Karl Vernay, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS 3 LMS
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Yvan Muller, YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Zsolt Szabó, Zengo Motorsport Cupra TCR

Vernay never escaped more than two seconds up the road from Moroccan Bennani, but always appeared in control as he swept to victory in the second race of the new WTCR era.

The 2017 TCR International Series champion grabbed the lead at the start of the race, outdragging polesitter Pepe Oriola on the run to the first corner.

Vernay left room on the inside for Oriola to attempt to squeeze his Cupra back through, sending Vernay wide, but the Audi man held on to his lead as Mehdi Bennani slipped his way into second while Oriola and James Thompson - who lost traction on the inside line - were delayed.

After early pressure from Bennani, Vernay pulled a comfortable early advantage over the Volkswagen and looked in control at the head of the field.

But his lead was wiped out after eight of the original 18 laps when Zsolt David Szabo stalled at the first corner, having turned into the path of the Alfa Romeo of Gianni Morbidelli at the start of the previous lap.

Szabo's Cupra was retrieved quickly and racing resumed two laps later, with Bennani pursuing Vernay closely, before the safety car returned to the track when Benjamin Lessennes stopped at the end of the back straight with his Honda pointing the wrong way.

Vernay made a better getaway on the second restart and quickly established a lead of more than a second over Bennani and, while he did not venture any further clear, maintained a buffer between himself and the Golf over the remaining six laps to win.

Oriola completed the podium behind the leading pair, with Yann Ehrlacher fourth in the leading Honda.

Thed Bjork had been involved in a feisty scrap for fifth with Rob Huff for the majority of the race before Huff ran straight on at the end of the straight approaching the Turn 7 left-right after the second restart.

Huff retired to the pits at the end of the same lap, although it is not clear what the Briton's exact issue was.

Bjork therefore finished fifth in the first of the four Hyundais in the field, with Thompson sixth and Norbert Michelisz registering his first points of the weekend in seventh in his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N.

Yvan Muller briefly got ahead of Esteban Guerrieri after the second restart, but was repassed with four laps to go and, despite twice drawing alongside the Munnich Motorsport Honda at the Turn 4/5 chicane, remained behind in ninth.

An incident between the two was under investigation as the race finished. Guerrieri twice cut the turn 4/5 chicane to stay ahead of the Hyundai - the second time having been pushed through the looped Turn 3 by Muller.

Tom Coronel resisted Gordon Shedden to score the final point in his Boutsen Ginion Honda.

Results:

 

PosCar no.DriverTeamGap
1 69 FRA Jean Karl Vernay Audi -
2 25 MAR Mehdi Bennani Volkswagen 0.89
3 74 ESP Pepe Oriola Seat 3.27
4 68 FRA Yann Ehrlacher Honda 3.631
5 11 SWE Thed Björk Hyundai 6.57
6 15 GBR James Thompson Honda 7.916
7 5 HUN Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 11.929
8 86 ARG Esteban Guerrieri Honda 13.63
9 48 FRA Yvan Muller Hyundai 14.555
10 9 HOL Tom Coronel Honda 14.959
11 52 GBR Gordon Shedden Audi 15.386
12 27 FRA John Filippi Seat 18.169
13 70 SVK Mato Homola Peugeot 19.48
14 88 ITA Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 20.091
15 21 FRA Aurelien Panis Audi 21.327
16 23 FRA Nathanaël Berthon Audi 22.411
17 8 HUN Norbert Nagy Seat 24.79
18 12 GBR Rob Huff Volkswagen 3 laps
  30 ITA Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 4 laps
  7 FRA Aurélien Comte Peugeot 8 laps
  63 BEL Benjamin Lessennes Honda 10 laps
  22 BEL Frederic Vervisch Audi 11 laps
  10 ITA Gianni Morbidelli Alfa Romeo 11 laps
  66 HUN Zsolt David Szabo Seat 13 laps
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