Wuhan WTCR: Vernay takes Race 1 win, Hyundais struggle

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Wuhan WTCR: Vernay takes Race 1 win, Hyundais struggle
By: Jack Cozens
Oct 6, 2018, 7:00 AM

WRT Audi driver Jean-Karl Vernay claimed his third victory of the World Touring Car Cup season in the opening Wuhan race, as teammate Gordon Shedden claimed his first WTCR podium.

Vernay had earlier prevailed in a qualifying session dominated by Audis - with second-place starter and finisher Pepe Oriola the only non-Audi in the top six on the grid in his Campos Racing SEAT - and ran untroubled in the race to pull off a convincing win on the Chinese street circuit.

The 2017 TCR International Series champion made a tentative start but held the lead from Oriola, with the fast-starting Yann Ehrlacher promoted to third ahead of Shedden when Denis Dupont got into the side of Comtoyou teammate Nathanael Berthon through the opening sequence of corners.

After a three-lap safety-car period in the first half of the race to allow debris from a crash between Tom Coronel (Boutsen Ginion Honda) and the Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo of Fabrizio Giovanardi to be cleared, Vernay pulled clear of Oriola - eventually winning by 4.913 seconds.

Vernay banked 27 points as a result to put himself back in with an outside shot at the title, having failed to score a point over the course of last weekend's Ningbo round.

Shedden's attempts to join the top two were frustrated in the opening half of the race, either side of the safety car, but the three-time British Touring Car champion cleared the Munnich Motorsport Honda of Ehrlacher on the run to the first corner on lap 12 of 20 and set about reeling in Oriola.

The Briton fell short of catching the Cupra, finishing 0.6s behind Oriola, but he nevertheless achieved a first top-three finish since switching to the world cup for 2018 - a result that also ended a seven-race point-less run stretching back to June.

Ehrlacher clung on to fourth despite pressure from the leading Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS of Frederic Vervisch, although he was given a 30-second post-race penalty for jumping the start that dropped him to 18th.

That promoted Vervisch to fourth, while Aurelien Comte (DG Sport Peugeot 308TCR) and the lead Alfa Romeo of Kevin Ceccon steered clear of trouble to take fine fifth- and sixth-places respectively.

Esteban Guerrieri was classified seventh, having resisted similar pressure from Berthon to that which Vervisch had applied to his Munnich teammate Ehrlacher, while Aurelien Panis and Dupont completed the points.

Vernay's championship cause was aided by all four of the leading Hyundai contenders failing to score a point.

Thed Bjork - who won two of the three races at Ningbo last weekend - got closest to the top 10, advancing two places from his grid slot to finish 13th, while teammate Yvan Muller was 16th behind the Sebastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen of Mehdi Bennani and Rob Huff.

The BRC Racing Hyundais fared even worse: points leader Gabriele Tarquini could only manage 18th, finishing last of those on the lead lap, while Norbert Michelisz pulled into the pits before the start of the race and completed just three laps.

Race 1 Results

Cla # Driver Chassis Gap
1 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay  Audi  
2 74 Spain Pepe Oriola  Seat 4.913
3 52 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden  Audi 5.513
4 68 France Yann Ehrlacher  Honda 9.613
5 22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch  Audi 10.070
6 7 France Aurélien Comte  Peugeot 11.102
7 31 Italy Kevin Ceccon  Alfa Romeo 11.531
8 86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri  Honda 17.044
9 23 France Nathanael Berthon  Audi 17.556
10 21 France Aurelien Panis  Audi 18.307
11 20 Belgium Denis Dupont  Audi 19.060
12 55 China Ma Qing Hua  Honda 20.725
13 11 Sweden Thed Björk  Hyundai 21.980
14 25 Morocco Mehdi Bennani  Volkswagen 23.449
15 12 United Kingdom Rob Huff  Volkswagen 24.049
16 48 France Yvan Muller  Hyundai 26.113
17 27 France John Filippi  Seat 26.980
18 30 Italy Gabriele Tarquini  Hyundai 27.428
19 42 Germany Timo Scheider  Honda 5 Laps
20 66 Hungary Zsolt Szabo  Seat 6 Laps
21 8 Hungary Norbert Nagy  Seat 7 Laps
22 9 Netherlands Tom Coronel  Honda 16 Laps
23 88 Italy Fabrizio Giovanardi  Alfa Romeo 17 Laps
24 70 Slovakia Mato Homola  Peugeot 17 Laps
25 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz  Hyundai 17 Laps
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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Wuhan
Author Jack Cozens
Article type Race report