Jean-Karl Vernay has claimed his second win of the 2021 WTCR season at Pau-Arnos, overtaking French countryman Yvan Muller at the start to take the lead in his Hyundai Elantra N. Vernay’s win launches him back up to second in the drivers’ standings in a race which saw some late drama.
At the start, Vernay managed to drive straight past Muller, while this time all the cars made it through the Turn 1-2 chicane and Turn 3 hairpin without incident.
Championship leader Yann Ehrlacher made a bad start and fell behind the two Münnich Motorsport Honda cars of Esteban Guerrieri and Néstor Girolami, and the Race 1-winning Audi of Frédéric Vervisch.
Guerrieri only had his teammate behind him as a rear guard up until lap ten, when Girolami slowed and pitted with a tyre issue with his Honda Civic.
The race was relatively uneventful until Norbert Michelisz, who had been applying pressure to Muller, lost pace from lap 16, struggling with a vibration on his BRC Racing Team Hyundai Elantra.
Michelisz was now backing up Santiago Urrutia into Guerrieri and Vervisch. The two drivers then made contact at the Turn 10 downhill chicane, with Guerrieri knocked into a half spin as Vervisch just narrowly missed the tyre stack. Vervisch was able to carry on without losing a position, while Guerrieri dropped a spot to Ehrlacher.
On the following lap, Urrutia and Vervisch both passed Michelisz to move into third and fourth, while Michelisz drove more defensively to hold back points leader Ehrlacher, who was soon caught by the recovering Guerrieri.
On lap 19, Guerrieri and Ehrlacher came together at the Turn 10 chicane, with Ehrlacher taking the escape road, while Guerrieri knocked a tyre stack onto the circuit, causing a late-race safety car.
The race resumed with one lap to go, with Michelisz again holding up Ehrlacher, who was then hit by Guerrieri, before Guerrieri himself was knocked into a half-spin by Gabriele Tarquini’s Hyundai behind but was able to continue.
Up front, Vernay took the chequered flag ahead of Muller and Urrutia, while Vervisch was fourth, with Ehrlacher just pipping Michelisz at the line by 73-thousandths of a second.
The result meant Ehrlacher continues to lead the championship, now just 16 points clear of Vernay, who moved past Guerrieri, who is now 22 points behind.
The next event of the WTCR takes place at Adria Raceway on November 6-7.
Pau-Arnos – Race 2
1. Jean-Karl Vernay (Team Engstler, Hyundai Elantra N), 22 laps
2. Yvan Muller (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 1.531
3. Santiago Urrutia (Cyan Performance, Lynk & Co 03), 2.457
4. Frédéric Vervisch (Comtoyoun Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 3.094
5. Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 7.855
1. Y. Ehrlacher 160; 2. JK. Vernay 144; 3. E. Guerrieri 138