Vernay claims pole position for final Zandvoort race

by James Bowers

In the top-five shootout, Jean-Karl Vernay posted a lap time of 1:43:994; a time quick enough for him to claim the first pole position of his World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) career. In doing so, the Frenchman narrowly outqualified race one pole-sitter, Rob Huff, and his Team WRT Audi team-mate Gordon Shedden.

The other two competitors who had made it into the top five, Esteban Guerrieri and Frederic Vervisch, were unable to set a lap time in the pole position shootout. Guerrieri’s Honda had lasting damage from an earlier session which prevented him from taking part, while Vervisch’s car suffered from a driveshaft failure during the shootout.

Behind them, Yann Ehrlacher qualified in sixth place following his victory in race one on Sunday. A little further back, Mehdi Bennani continued to struggle to match the pace of Rob Huff, but a seventh place grid spot is not to be frowned upon. Pepe Oriola, meanwhile, found some extra speed in his Cupra to secure eighth place on the starting grid for race three. Aurelien Comte and James Thompson rounded out the top ten, but with the order being reversed for race two, this would hand the pair a front-row starting position with Thompson on pole.

Championship points leader, Yvan Muller, was the quickest of the Hyundais down in 18th as they continued to struggle with the new Balance of Performance updates. Also at the tail end of the time sheets, local hero Tom Coronel struggled again with a faulty car, and ended up qualifying in 22nd place.

Two penalties were put into action ahead of race two. For his role in the crash with Yvan Muller in race one, Norbert Michelisz would serve a ten-place grid penalty. This dropped him from 20th down to the back row of the grid. He would be joined by the quickest driver of all, Jean-Karl Vernay. Although his pole position still stood for race three, the Frenchman would be sent to the back of the pack in the reversed-grid race two as punishment for having to replace the engine in his Audi overnight.

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