Practice 1 - Muller sets the pace
In a sunny morning Yvan Muller topped the time sheet in the first Free Practice session, posting a lap of 2:31.121 that left the rest of the field seven tenths of a second behind.
Lap times improved quickly as drivers gained confidence on the streets around the Guia hill. Pepe Oriola led for most of the session, setting provisional fastest laps of 2:32.284 and 2:31.964, before Rob Huff had a brief spell in top with a lap of 2:31.920. But eventually Muller settled the matter for good with only a few minutes left on the clock.
Oriola improved again towards the end of the session, moving up to second (2:31.838), ahead of Huff, Tiago Monteiro (2:31.937) and Tom Chilton (2:32.069).
The latter was lucky to escape a possible crash at the Mandarin bend on his first timed lap when he nearly lost the car and brushed the Armco barrier.
James Thompson posted the sixth fastest lap in the LADA (2:32.174) with Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda in seventh (2:32.384) and the first BMW of Stefano D’Aste in eight (2:33.158). The latter was also the fastest of the Yokohama Trophy competitors.
Marc Basseng and Tom Coronel rounded out the top ten.
Campos Racing’s Michael Soong was the fastest of the Asia Trophy drivers, ranking 22nd ahead of Filipe de Souza and Henry Ho.
A few incidents were reported. Ng Kin Veng crashed into the wall at Police bend and his car was T-boned by Konstantins Calko’s. The Latvian rejoined despite damage at the front of his SEAT, however he was shown the black-orange flag and called back to the pits for repairs. Fredy Barth hit the wall at Fisherman’s bend but was able to rejoin.
Free Practice 2 is scheduled to start at 12.15 local time (5.15am CET) with the two-stage Qualifying session due to begin at 15.35.