Photo: TCR Media

Jean-Karl Vernay leads Leopard Racing 1-2 in Singapore

Jean-Karl Vernay led home Leopard Racing team-mate Stefano Comini to take a lights-to-flag win in Singapore. Pepe Oriola completed the podium in the Lukoil-backed Craft-Bamboo SEAT.

Vernay had a perfect start and took a slight margin over team-mate Comini as B3 Racing’s Mat’o Homola had a bad getaway and dropped down to fifth. The Slovakian managed to overtake Craft-Bamboo’s James Nash right after that, going up to fourth in the process. WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli was touched by B3 Racing’s Dusan Borkovic at the first corner and spun, dropping down to 11th.

Vernay was initially under attack from Comini, but after three laps the gap was enough for the Frenchman to have some breathing space as the defending champion actually had to look in his mirrors to defend from Pepe Oriola, who was charging from third.

On lap four, Petr Fulín was forced to pit due to engine problems with his Mulsanne Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR while he was in ninth.

Two laps later WestCoast Racing’s Kevin Gleason started being attacked by B3 Racing’s Attila Tassi for eight, which allowed Morbidelli to try to overtake the Hungarian. The Italian tried hard for two laps, but did not succeed and stayed in tenth.

On lap seven, WestCoast Honda’s Mikhail Grachev was touched slightly by Loris Hezemans in his SEAT, which led the Dutchman to losing a part of his car. Douglas Khoo crashed at Turn 7 on the same lap, the driver subsequently retiring due to a front right puncture.

Davit Kajaia had to retire in the pits in his Liqui Moly-backed Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR, just before Hezemans also crashed at Turn 7 and retired on the spot.

Vernay won the race ahead of Comini and Oriola, with Homola fourth under the flag. James Nash finished fifth just ahead of Craft-Bamboo team-mate Sergey Afansyev, while Dusan Borkovic came home seventh ahead of Kevin Gleason’s Honda. Attila Tassi and Gianni Morbidelli completed the top ten.

The championship battle is now as tight as can be, as Comini now leads by a point, with Nash in second one point behind and Oriola in third, two points off the lead. Jean-Karl Vernay’s win also brings him up to 193 points, 22 less than Comini.

Race 2 is scheduled for tomorrow at 15:00 local time.