Jean-Karl Vernay claimed his second win of the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup season. The WRT Audi driver survived a mid-race investigation into an alleged jump start.
Replays showed the reigning TCR International Series champion momentarily creeping in his grid slot as the starting lights came on, however the Frenchman came to a prompt stop before they faded.
The stewards ruled it did not prove enough of an advantage, but he nonetheless managed to outdrag Rob Huff’s VW Gold GTI off the line and squeezed the Englishman towards the pit wall to avert any threat from the Sébastien Loeb Racing driver on the run to Tarzan.
He was not challenged thereafter, slowly eking out a lead over the rest of the field and later backing off to win by 1.2 seconds.
Huff finished in second place to consolidate a solid points haul for the weekend, while Comtoyou Racing Audi driver Frédéric Vervisch finished third to earn his third podium finish in the last five races.
The battle for fourth place proved to be the most interesting focal point of the race, with Esteban Guerrieri defending against Gordon Shedden’s WRT Audi in a race-long scrap after the Argentina managed to get the jump on the Scot at the start.
Shedden appeared quicker than the Münnich Motorsport driver, but could not capitalise on two half-chances to overtake the Honda.
He finished between Guerrieri and teammate Yann Ehrlacher – the winner of the opening race at Zandvoort – who kept a watching brief and managed his engine temperatures rather than attacking the former British Touring Car champion. Ehrlacher’s sixth place gave him the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings by nine points over his uncle Yvan Muller.
Seventh place went to Aurélien Comte, who rounded out an excellent weekend for the DG Sport Compétition Peugeot team following his Race 1 podium and Race 2 win. He finished ahead of the second SLR VW Golf of Mehdi Bennani.
James Thompson ensured all three Münnich Motorsport Hondas finished in the points, moving up to ninth place with one of the race’s few overtaking moves on the Campos Racing Cupra of Pepe Oriola.
Gianni Morbidelli threatened to challenge for the final points’ position – the first for Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo – but his race came undone when he collided with Oriola’s teammate John Filippi late in the race and spun. He did not attend the post-race stewards’ hearing called to review the incident and was found guilty in absentia of causing the collision, although popular consensus was that Filippi was actually to blame.
The race proved to be little more than an extended test session for the four Hyundai i30 entries, who found their previously dominant cars woefully uncompetitive in the wake of the Balance of Performance adjustments in place for the Zandvoort round. Neither early championship leaders Gabriele Tarquini or Yvan Muller, along with their respective teammates Norbert Michelisz and Thed Björk, managed to score a single point across the weekend’s three races.
The FIA WTCR’s next round takes place at the Vila Real street circuit in Portugal on 23-24 June.
|2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup Race of Netherlands – Race 3 Final Classification (15 laps)|
|1.||Jean-Karl Vernay||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||15||26:58.904||30|
|2.||Rob Huff||Sébastien Loeb Racing||15||+ 1.199||23|
|3.||Frédéric Vervisch||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||15||+ 3.065||19|
|4.||Esteban Guerrieri||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||15||+ 4.405||16|
|5.||Gordon Shedden||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||15||+ 5.019||13|
|6.||Yann Ehrlacher||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||15||+ 6.869||10|
|7.||Aurélien Comte||DG Sport Compétition||15||+ 7.804||7|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing||15||+ 12.298||4|
|9.||James Thompson||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||15||+ 14.241||2|
|10.||Pepe Oriola||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||15||+ 18.718||1|
|11.||Nathanaël Berthon||Comtoyou Racing||15||+ 18.932|
|12.||Denis Dupont||Comtoyou Racing||15||+ 19.524|
|13.||Aurélien Panis||Comtoyou Racing||15||+ 20.541|
|14.||John Filippi||Team OSCARO by Campos Racing||15||+ 21.957|
|15.||Thed Björk||MRacing – YMR||15||+ 26.197|
|16.||Mat’o Homola||DG Sport Compétition||15||+ 28.075|
|17.||Norbert Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport||15||+ 28.455|
|18.||Gabriele Tarquini||BRC Racing Team||15||+ 29.001|
|19.||Bernhard van Oranje||Bas Koeten Racing||15||+ 31.277|
|20.||Michael Verhagen||Bas Koeten Racing||15||+ 1:03.669|
|21.||Gianni Morbidelli*||Mulsanne SRL||14||+ 1 lap|
|22.||Norbert Michelisz||BRC Racing Team||13||Retired|
|DNF.||Yvan Muller||MRacing – YMR||9||Retired|
|DNF.||Benjamin Lessennes||Boutsen Ginion Racing||7||Wheel|
|DNF.||Tom Coronel||Boutsen Ginion Racing||1||Collision|
|DNF.||Zsolt Dávid Szabó||Zengõ Motorsport||1||Collision|
|DNS.||Fabrizio Giovanardi||Mulsanne SRL||Damage|
* Post-Race Penalties:
- Gianni Morbidelli – who was provisionally classified 21st – was issued a 30-second post-race time penalty (in absentia) for colliding with John Filippi.
Images via FIA WTCR Media