RML’s Yvan Muller set the pace during Friday testing for the WTCC’s maiden visit to Argentina, posting a time 0.368 seconds faster than team-mate Tom Chilton around the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.
Muller’s lap came within the final minute of the session, with the Frenchman’s lap of 1 minute 49.878 seconds being the only time under the 1 minute 50 seconds mark. Chilton was second quickest, having briefly been top of the times in the closing minutes of the session.
With almost all drivers having to get to learn the circuit in north-western Argentina, drivers were initially cautious during their exploratory first laps in the session.
The first driver to top the times in anger, Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz, posted a time of 1:51.594 early in the session, before improving to a 1:50.724 which would put him fifth by the end of the session. The Hungarian was pipped near the end of the session by Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, who finished third, and Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff, in fourth.
Tiago Monteiro and Pepe Oriola were fifth and sixth fastest respectively in their Honda and Chevrolets, with both drivers having enjoyed spells at the top of the times. Oriola was the last driver to be within a second of Muller’s time.
Nika Racing’s Michel Nykjær was eighth quickest, ahead of LADA’s James Thompson in ninth and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel in tenth.
Local hero José María López, the only driver with previous knowledge of the circuit, ended the session in 11th. He had briefly been the second-fastest man in his Wiechers-Sport BMW, before sliding down the order as those with more WTCC experience learned the track and improved on their times.
Brits Alex MacDowall and James Nash ended the session in 12th and 13th in their bamboo-engineering Chevrolets.
First free practice takes place at 09:30 ART (13:30 BST; 14:30 CEST) on Saturday 3rd August, with free practice two following at 12:00 ART (16:00 BST; 17:00 CEST) and qualifying at 15:45 ART (19:45 BST; 20:45 CEST).