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Monza testing photos

The World Touring Car Championship returned to action today (Thursday) as five official test sessions were held around the Monza circuit in Italy. Chevrolet emerged as the dominant force, topping every session. We bring you a photographical summary of the on-track action.

Rob Huff ensured that Chevrolet began the 2012 season where they left off in 2011, as Briton Rob Huff topped the first morning session. Indeed it was a Chevrolet 1-2-3-4-5 first thing in the morning, as fellow works drivers Yvan Muller and Alain Menu were joined by bamboo engineering’s Alex MacDowall and Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden’s Rickard Rydell in the top five.

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Huff was second and third quickest respectively before sitting out the fourth session along with his RML Chevrolet team-mates.

Reigning champion Yvan Muller topped the times in the second, third and fifth session to establish himself as the favourite ahead of the first race of the season. The Frenchman set a quickest time of the day of 1:58.022 late in the afternoon.

A number of new drivers are making their WTCC débuts this weekend, including three Brits. MacDowall was easily the most impressive of them on Thursday, consistently setting lap times as the ‘best of the rest’ behind his works Chevrolet rivals. MacDowall then went on to set the quickest time in the fourth session, albeit one which the RML trio opted to forgoe.

A new team to the WTCC, Team Aon, hit the track on Thursday and showed off their new livery. However James Nash and Tom Chilton both had a mixed day, and failed to break the 2 minute barrier, with the best time of 2:00.361 coming from Chilton in the afternoon.

Returning to the champion for the first time since 2009 is Swede Rickard Rydell. Although not a full-season entry – Rydell is using Monza as preparation for his Swedish title defence – Rydell set impressive times throughout the day and was fifth fastest in each of the morning sessions, ensuring a Chevrolet lockout.

The only driver to come within one second of the works Chevrolet drivers was Gabriele Tarquini who was fourth quickest in the final session of the afternoon. Tarquini’s best lap, a 1:58.643, was still six tenths shy of the quickest lap of the day however.

There is no WTCC on-track action on Friday. However the first free practice session takes place at 0900 CET on Saturday, with the afternoon’s qualifying sessions beginning at 1430 CET.

You can follow all of the action live and as it happens with Touring-Cars.Net on twitter.

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