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Pepe Oriola sets pace in first-ever TCR session

Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Pepe Oriola set the pace in first practice for the TCR International Series at Sepang in Malaysia, with SEAT cars dominating the session by taking the top seven positions.

In a sunny 20-minute session it was the SEAT Cup Racers, which have had more development than any of their rivals, who dominated, with Oriola posting as time of 2:20.780, ahead of Target Competition pair Michel Nykjær and Andrea Belicchi.

The top non-SEAT driver was West Coast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli at the wheel of the new JAS Motorsport-built Honda Civic. The Italian was 2.783 seconds off the pace in seventh, with team-mate Kevin Gleason just two tenths behind in eighth.

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Liqui Moly Team Engstler, who were hit with an extra 50 kg of ballast on their Audis at the start of the weekend due to a change by the series’ technical department, were 10th, 11th and 12th. Lorenzo Veglia, at the wheel of the team’s SEAT was 11th, whilst the team’s Audi TT Cup Racers, driven by Franz Engstler in 11th and Mikhail Grachev and 12th were more than four seconds off the pace.

Neither of the new Opel Astra OPC cars run by Campos Racing, nor the brand new Ford Focus RS run by Proteam Racing, managed to post a time due to technical issues. Jordi Oriola was prevented from participating due to a water pump failure on his Astra, whilst team-mate Igor Skuz stalled in the pitlane due to an electrical failure, with Diego Romanini suffering the same problem on his Ford.

Second practice takes place at 16:45 local time.

Top ten times

1 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 9 2:20.780
2 17 Michel NYKJÆR Target Competition SEAT León Racer 9 2:21.173 0.393
3 33 Andrea BELICCHI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 9 2:21.297 0.517
4 77 Sergey AFANASYEV Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 9 2:21.750 0.970
5 88 Jordi GENÉ Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 9 2:21.826 1.046
6 25 Stefano COMINI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 9 2:21.869 1.089
7 55 Ferenc FICZA Zengő Motorsport SEAT León Racer 7 2:22.458 1.678
8 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 7 2:23.563 2.783
9 24 Kevin GLEASON West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 7 2:23.699 2.919
10 7 Lorenzo VEGLIA Liqui Moly Team Engstler SEAT León Racer 7 2:24.970 4.190

Complete session results.

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