Volvo Polestar Racing’s Thed Björk was a surprise fastest in first free practice for the World Touring Car Championship in China, posting a time more than half a second faster than Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini.
On a foggy morning in China Björk, who is not eligible to score points this weekend, posted the fastest time early on in the session, going on to beat the time on the next lap. The Swede admitted that he was running on new tyres, compared to others in the field running on used rubber, but also expects the Shanghai circuit’s long straights to suit the Volvo.
Honda’s Tarquini was second fastest, less than a tenth ahead of the top Chevrolet being driven by Swede Rickard Rydell who is also making a one-off appearance in the series this weekend.
New champion Yvan Muller was fourth fastest, ahead of Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz in fifth.
ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel was sixth fastest and the top BMW driver, ahead of a returning Fredy Barth in the wiechers-Sport BMW in seventh.
Honda’s Tiago Monteiro, LADA’s James Thompson and RML’s Tom Chilton completed the top ten, with Monteiro being the last driver within a second of Björk’s pace during the 40-minute session.
Tuenti Racing’s Pepe Oriola was unable to post a time due to suffering a power steering failure. Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani also struggled during the session, finishing down in 23rd, enduring a broken driveshaft in his BMW.