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Sébastien Loeb fastest in first French practice

Sébastien Loeb set the pace in the opening World Touring Car Championship free practice session at Circuit Paul Ricard, with a late lap by Hugo Valente giving him the second fastest time.

Loeb set the pace with a lap of 1:30.891, beating Campos Racing’s Valente by 0.146 seconds after the Chevrolet driver improved from eighth to second with just three minutes remaining.

Championship leader José María López was third fastest, ahead of fellow Citroën driver Yvan Muller. The only red-flag stoppage of the session was caused at the halfway point when Muller clipped a tyre stack, damaging the front-right corner of his car and causing him to stop on the circuit.

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Tom Chilton was fourth fastest for ROAL Motorsport, ahead of the top Honda of Tiago Monteiro in sixth. Gabriele Tarquini was seventh fastest in his newly-built car, with the Italian the last driver within a second of the pace.

Completing the top ten were Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz, Campos Racing’s Dušan Borković and Münnich Motorsport’s René Münnich.

James Thompson was the top LADA Sport driver in 11th, two tenths ahead of team-mate Rob Huff in 12th, having improved his time to pip his fellow Brit in the closing minutes of the session.

Franz Engstler was once again the top driver in the TC2 category, posting the 16th fastest time ahead of Pasquale Di Sabatino and John Filippi.

Second practice takes place at 11:45 CEST (10:45 BST).

Top ten times

1 9 TC1 Sébastien LOEB Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 15 1:30.891 0.000
2 7 TC1 Hugo VALENTE Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 10 1:31.037 0.146
3 37 TC1 José María LÓPEZ Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 13 1:31.039 0.148
4 1 TC1 Yvan MULLER Citroën Total WTCC Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 4 1:31.390 0.499
5 3 TC1 Tom CHILTON ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 13 1:31.489 0.598
6 18 TC1 Tiago MONTEIRO Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 14 1:31.664 0.773
7 2 TC1 Gabriele TARQUINI Castrol Honda WTC Team Honda Civic WTCC 12 1:31.747 0.856
8 5 TC1 Norbert MICHELISZ Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 13 1:31.893 1.002
9 98 TC1 Dušan BORKOVIĆ NIS Petrol by Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 13 1:32.312 1.421
10 77 TC1 René MÜNNICH ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 13 1:32.589 1.698

Complete session results

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