Engstler Motorsport claimed important points at the third round of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup season, Race of Spain, to maintain Jean-Karl Vernay’s lead at the top of the drivers’ championship and leap to second in the teams’ battle.
The Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team driver demonstrated good pace on Saturday to reach the final phase of qualifying with his Hyundai Elantra N TCR, where he qualified in fifth position. A penalty dropped him down to ninth on the Race 1 grid, however Vernay kept out of trouble to finish where he started. In the second race, the Frenchman made a good start off the line from fifth place and gained a position on the sixth lap. After this, the frontrunners proved to have more pace in hand and he crossed the finish line in fourth. It was a difficult weekend for his teammate Luca Engstler, whose Race of Spain fate was determined in qualifying. The German struggled to set a time in the top-ten and subsequently started both Races from 12th on the grid. Although he went on to finish in the points twice – thirteenth in Race 1 and eighth in Race 2 – the German admitted he was disappointed with his weekend at MotorLand Aragón. Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team achieved its aim of regaining ground in the teams’ standings, and now lies second. Vernay has an eight-point advantage in the drivers’ battle, while Engstler is 15th overall. Franz Engstler, Team Principal of Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team said: “As a team we have mixed feelings about Race of Spain. On the one hand we have achieved our aim of gaining ground in the battle for the teams’ crown, but we didn’t have the consistent weekend we were looking for at Race of Spain. We’ve managed to maintain Jean-Karl’s position in the lead of the drivers’ championship, but we need to work to understand how we can improve our qualifying performance. We know the Hyundai Elantra N TCR is capable of winning races, and as a team we need to make sure we do everything we can to enable both Jean-Karl and Luca to compete for victories.” Jean-Karl Vernay said: “After our weekend in Aragón, I’m still leading the championship, which is a great result. After an uneventful Race 1, I had a good start in Race 2 and made a pass on-track to consolidate my fourth place. It was difficult to try a move on the cars in front as they were slightly quicker than us. It was a good weekend for points, and that’s the most important thing. I think we can be happy about Race of Spain, so let’s focus on the next round.” Luca Engstler said: “Another difficult race weekend. I want to analyse what happened in qualifying properly. I have the speed, we saw that in the race, but when you are starting towards the back of the grid it is hard to storm through the field - in WTCR, we are fighting against the top drivers in touring cars. We definitely messed up my qualifying, and I want to go deeper into what happened. As a team, we need to do better.”