Practice 1: Honda cars set the early pace
Castrol Honda Team drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro were quickest and second fastest respectively in the first WTCC Free Practice session at the Slovakia Ring.
“It was a great start to the weekend and we have clearly benefitted from the testing we did here at the Slovakia Ring during the winter,” the Italian commented.
Monteiro had set the early pace in the session before Yvan Muller’s Chevrolet Cruze briefly topped the timesheet, with Tarquini’s Honda Civic then posting the best lap time of 2:12.215 and Monteiro improving in the final minutes to set the second quickest time of 2:12.612.
In one of the surprises of the session, it was Tom Coronel’s BMW that was third fastest (2:12.693) proving that the slimming diet following the authorization to mount carbon-fibre doors is being effective.
Yvan Muller (2:12.757) was fourth fastest ahead of his RML teammate Tom Chilton (2:13.024), with the reigning WTCC Drivers’ Champion Rob Huff sixth in the first of the SEAT León cars (2:13.285). The Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall was seventh (2:13.412) and so the Englishman was the leading Yokohama Trophy competitor.
There were several incidents during the session; Fredy Barth and Stefano D’Aste both spun, while Tom Coronel and Fernando Monje were forced to take to the gravel. René Münnich experienced gearbox problems in his SEAT, which meant he was unable to complete a timed lap. The final minutes of the session then saw flames emerging from underneath the Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz, although these were quickly extinguished when the car returned to the pit lane.