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José María López ends morning test on top

Citroën’s José María López was the fastest driver at the end of the first morning of testing at the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC)’s first official pre-season test.

The official pre-season test and media day at the Vallelunga circuit in Italy was held in cool and sunny conditions, and also featured the first appearance of new manufacturer Volvo alongside its rivals.

Reigning champion López rose to the top of the times in the final hour of the three-hour morning session, posting a time of 1:37.348.

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Second fastest was independent Citroën racer Mehdi Bennani, whose time was 0.414 seconds slower than the Argentine.

Swede Fredrik Ekblom was an encouraging third fastest for Volvo Polestar Cyan Racing, being 0.853 seconds off the pace in the new S60’s first test alongside its rivals.

Campos Racing’s John Filippi was fourth fastest, with the Chevrolet driver putting in an encouraging time to be 0.876 seconds off the pace.

The only other driver within a second of the pace was Thed Björk, who completed an encouraging morning for Volvo.

Norbert Michelisz was the only Honda driver to take to the track during the test, putting his Civic in sixth, despite having topped the times for much of the early part of the session.

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier were seventh and eighth on their first official outings in their C-Elysées, whilst René Münnich completed the nine cars who took part in the test – with the German’s reappearance possibly alluding to a return to the championship for the first time since 2014.

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