A consistent Jean-Karl Vernay took Leopard Racing Team WRT‘s second drivers’ championship with a race to spare in Dubai at the final round of the 2017 TCR International Series. Including 5 thirds and 2 wins, the Frenchman stayed clear of trouble throughout the season to score in 16 of the 20 races this seasons.
Closest rival Attila Tassi entered the final round a distant 21-points, extended to 25-points as Vernay scored 4 points with a second in qualifying, and an engine sensor issue in practice did not aid the Hungarian. Despite climbing to fifth from tenth on the grid, Vernay’s third would extend the gap beyond 25-points to 30-points and, with only a maximum of 25-points available, Vernay was confirmed as the successor of twice-champion Stefano Comini.
“I don’t know yet how I feel… but obviously, it is great to be champion. I am very happy for Leopard Racing, WRT and Volkswagen. Everybody did a great job in a season that was quite tough,” said Vernay following race 1, “Strategy did not work, as there was another car between Shedden and me, so I had to do things on my own…Personally, this title means a lot to me, as it comes after titles in LMP, GT and single-seaters, so it proves I can will with all sorts of cars.”
Vernay adds the TCR title to his list of career achievements which includes the 2010 Indy Lights championship and victory in the GTE-Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in an IMSA Performance Porsche. It remains to be seen whether he will return to the series next year, which is expected to be promoted to “World Championship” status as plans to merge with the World Touring Car Championship reach a conclusion.