Local hero José María López offered another show of strength during this morning’s first practice session at Termas de Río Hondo.
Sat 02.08.14, 3:03PM
The Argentine driver was consistently the fastest and eventually topped the time sheet with a lap of 1:43.889, leaving his Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb (1:44.149) more than two tenths behind.
Loeb commented: “We tried to perform the scheduled working plan, trying different set-up solutions, but it’s difficult to get a clear idea because the track is still very green and conditions keep changing, making it difficult to find reliable parameters. Still, the car feels good.”
Mehdi Bennani created a surprise in the Proteam Honda Civic car, posting the third fastest lap (1:44.288), four tenths off the leader’s pace. The Moroccan beat Yvan Muller by one hundredth of a second, demoting him to fourth. “It’s a good start. It seems the circuit suits well the Honda cars. I think the chassis characteristics of the Civic make the car quite agile on this track, and that despite the long straight, we are not too penalized in top speed. Third-fastest is a good result, especially on used tires and not having the latest spec updates that the works Honda cars have, so I am happy,” said Bennani.
The Honda Castrol duo of Gabriele Tarquini (1:44.528) and Tiago Monteiro (1:44.719) ranked fifth and seventh respectively, as they were split by the Zengö Motorsport Civic of Norbert Michelisz (1:44.675).
ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton was the fastest of the Chevrolet RML drivers in eighth position (1:45.259), ahead of Hugo Valente (1:45.302) and the first LADA Granta of Rob Huff (1:45.541).
Franz Engstler set the fastest lap in the TC2T class (1:50.133), one-and-a-half second faster than John Filippi. Engstler’s team-mate Camilo Echevarría was not able to post any significant lap time due to a turbocharger failure.