RML duo sets the pace

The two RML Chevrolet Cruze cars of Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton set the two fastest times in this morning’s first Free Practice session at the Salzburgring

Helped by the cool conditions, Muller’s best time (1:26.279) was over a second quicker than his pole-setting time from last year, while Chilton (1:26.680) and Alex MacDowall in a bamboo-engineering Cruze (1:26.698) made the top three an all-Chevrolet affair. MacDowall was also the fastest of the Yokohama Trophy entrants.

Behind the trio were the SEAT León of the reigning World Champion Rob Huff (1:26.806) and the Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz (1:26.967). The best BMW was that of ninth-fastest Tom Coronel (1:27.218) while James Thompson’s Lada Granta was tenth, with a best lap of 1:27.255.

The right-left chicane at the end of the start/finish straight caught out several drivers during the session, with Coronel, Huff, Tiago Monteiro and Franz Engstler all needing to use the escape road. Turn 12 twice saw the SEAT of René Münnich spin before continuing and Pepe Oriola had to come into the pits after his door opened late in the session. The BMW of Darryl O’Young failed to complete a single timed lap because of turbocharger problems.

The second Free Practice session is due to begin at 11.45 CET.