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– Vernay secures the most important TCR title with third place in Dubai
– Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR crowned best car of the year
– Team Leopard Racing wins international TCR series for the second time with Volkswagen

Jean-Karl Vernay has claimed the title in the TCR International Series in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Driving for the Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing, the French driver needed just a third-place finish at the final race weekend of the season, at the Dubai Autodrome, to hold off the challenge of his closest competitor Attila Tassi (H/Honda). After finishing third last year, this was the first title win for Vernay in the touring car racing series. This was also a successful title defence for Volkswagen: Stefano Comini (CH) had already claimed the championship title for the brand from Wolfsburg in 2016.

“I just don’t know what to say,” reacted a delighted Vernay. “I would like to thank my team, and Volkswagen. Everyone gave their all in this difficult season. This title really means a lot.” Vernay finished third behind team-mate Gordon Shedden (GB) in the first race in Dubai and completed the second race in 15th position, meaning that he finished 29 points ahead of Tassi in the drivers’ standings.

“Congratulations to Jean-Karl Vernay and our customer team Leopard Racing – they did a fantastic job together throughout the season and never lost sight of the overall aim, winning the drivers’ title. This win represents the pinnacle of a very successful season,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets.

Continuity pays off: one win and numerous points finishes pave the way to the title

A high level of continuity and clever driving methods helped Jean-Karl Vernay to the title, and he was always able to count on his 350hp Golf GTI TCR as a reliable partner. “JK” Vernay claimed just one race win, at Spa-Francorchamps (B) in May, but numerous points finishes meant that he was a serious title contender from an early stage.

The fast Frenchman had raced with Volkswagen Power in Formula 3 early in his career, and he first moved into the overall lead after the first two race weekends in Georgia and Bahrain. His victory at the third race in Spa, which was a one-two for Volkswagen courtesy of a second-place finish for Rob Hoff (GB), allowed Vernay to consolidate his lead in the overall standings.

Even a serious crash and zero points at the Salzburgring (A) could not stop Vernay on his route to the title. His Leopard Racing team rebuilt the Golf GTI in just one week before the next race at the Hungaroring (H) and Vernay returned the favour by battling his way to third and seventh places. This result ensured that he stayed in touch with Tassi, who had by now taken the lead in the championship. At the penultimate race weekend in China, Vernay returned to the top of the standings with a second-place finish, and showed no inclination of giving this position up.

Four wins this season: Golf GTI TCR is “Model Car of the year”

The Golf GTI TCR 2017 recorded three more wins: experienced driver Gianni Morbidelli (I) from the WestCoast Racing team claimed two race wins at the races in Oschersleben (D), and Rob Huff (GB) was victorious at the penultimate race weekend in Zhejiang, China. Numerous podium finishes made the Golf GTI TCR the strongest car of the highly-competitive field for the international TCR series. In the “Model Car of the year” standings, the car from Wolfsburg was crowned best car ahead of the competition from Honda, Audi, Seat, Alfa Romeo, Opel and Kia.

The international TCR series was not the only major stage for the Golf: Kantadhee Kusiri (T) celebrated the title in the competitive TCR Asia, Benjamin Leuchter (D) and Andreas Gülden (D) won the TCR category in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring (D), Francisco Abreu won the drivers’ title in the TCR Iberico and the Golf GTI was also named best racing car in the TCR Benelux.

TCR International Series, 2017 season

02/04 Georgia, Race 1 – Winner: Davit Kajaia (Alfa Romeo)
03/04 Georgia, Race 2 – Winner: Pepe Oriola (Seat)
15/04 Bahrain, Race 1 – Winner: Roberto Colciago (Honda)
16/04 Bahrain, Race 2 – Winner: Dušan Borković (Alfa Romeo)
05/05 Belgium, Race 1 – Winner: Stefano Comini (Audi)
07/05 Belgium, Race 2 – Winner: Jean-Karl Vernay (Volkswagen)
13/05 Italy, Race 1 – Winner: Roberto Colciago (Honda)
14/05 Italy, Race 2 – Winner: Stefano Comini (Audi)
11/06 Austria, Race 1 – Winner: Dušan Borković (Alfa Romeo)
11/06 Austria, Race 2 – Winner: Roberto Colciago (Honda)
18/06 Hungary, Race 1 – Winner: Attila Tassi (Honda)
18/06 Hungary, Race 2 – Winner: Attila Tassi (Honda)
09/07 Germany, Race 1 – Winner: Gianni Morbidelli (Volkswagen)
09/07 Germany, Race 2 – Winner: Gianni Morbidelli (Volkswagen)
03/09 Thailand, Race 1 – Winner: Norbert Michelisz (Honda)
03/09 Thailand, Race 2 – Winner: Aurélien Panis (Honda)
08/10 China, Race 1 – Winner: Gabriele Tarquini (Hyundai)
08/10 China, Race 2 – Winner: Robert Huff (Volkswagen)
18/11 Dubai, Race 1 – Winner: Pepe Oriola (Seat)
18/11 Dubai, Race 2 – Winner: Stefano Comini (Audi)

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