Engstler Motorsport has claimed its third podium finish of the season at Race of Portugal, the second round of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season, which took place at the Circuito do Estoril this weekend.
Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team driver Jean-Karl Vernay powered his Hyundai Elantra N TCR car into the third phase of Saturday’s qualifying, in which the fastest five drivers compete in a one-lap shoot-out for pole position. He started Sunday’s Race 2 in third place, while his teammate Luca Engstler, unfortunate to miss out on a top-ten starting position, was eleventh. At the start Vernay had to avoid a stalled car directly in front of him, which caused him to lose a position. Nevertheless, the Frenchman continued to apply pressure to the frontrunners; after the race leader was forced to pit with damage, Vernay was challenging for victory. He crossed the line in second place to score his second podium with the team. Engstler had made a good start and was running in the top-ten before he was forced to retire with a puncture caused by damage from the first race. In Race 1 both drivers were unlucky to be caught in first-lap incidents that determined the outcome of their races before the first corner. The German dropped down the order to 15th after receiving a hit from another car, but valiantly fought his way back up to score points in 12th. Vernay was caught in a crash involving multiple cars, bringing his race to an early conclusion and causing him to briefly lose the lead of the drivers’ championship. Following his podium finish in Race 2, Vernay once again tops the drivers’ standings with a five-point advantage. Engstler is ninth in the classification, while the team now sits fourth overall. Franz Engstler, Team Principal of Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team said: “It has been a trying weekend for our team with some glimmers of hope. We are of course delighted Jean-Karl has claimed another WTCR podium, but Luca has endured a difficult event through no fault of his own. Our results in Portugal had the potential to be much more than they were. The Hyundai Elantra N TCR demonstrated again it has the pace to fight at the front, but incidents in both races prevented us from realising this. We still have some work to do to ensure we are consistent throughout the weekend. There is a long way to go in the season, but we have to make sure we take points at every opportunity.” Jean-Karl Vernay said: “The target of Race 1 was to score some points. I had a great start from seventh on the grid but Girolami didn’t brake and the resulting crash messed up my race. Race 2 was much better and it was great to be in a position to challenge for the lead and finish on the podium. Now we are back in the lead of the drivers’ championship and the goal is to continue this momentum. The season is still very long but the points we have taken this weekend are very important.” Luca Engstler said: “My weekend in Portugal didn’t go as I expected. I didn’t get a proper flying lap until qualifying, which was very difficult on a circuit I’ve never raced at before, but we managed to qualify in eleventh. The races were very busy, full of crashes. In Race 1 I felt I had the pace to be on the podium if I hadn’t been caught in the incidents on the first lap, and unfortunately after a great start in Race 2 we had to retire the car with a puncture.” For more information, please contact email@example.com