Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Pepe Oriola set the pace in free practice for the TCR International Series at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, over half a second clear of Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay.
O a newly-resurface circuit, lap times were significantly faster than those set at the first-ever TCR meeting back in March 2015.
Oriola spent much of the session at the top of the times, continually improving in his SEAT León in what is the only practice session for the TCR field this weekend due to the time constraints of supporting Formula One.
WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli was third fastest, 1.149 seconds off the pace, ahead of an impressive time by B3 Racing’s Attila Tassi in fourth.
Reigning champion Stefano Comini brought the second Leopard Volkswagen across the line with the fifth-best time, ahead of championship leader James Nash in sixth, just under 1.5 seconds off the pace.
The session had to be twice red-flagged due to firstly Andy Yan spinning off at Turn 1 and beaching his Volkswagen Golf in the gravel trap.
A second delay occurred when TCR Asia competitor Bill O’Brien went off in the gravel and the session eventually resumed with eight minutes to run.
Teamwork Motorsport’s Kevin Tse was the fastest of the TCR Asia Series competitors in 11th, ahead of Tin Sritrai in 16th, Filipe Clemente de Souza in 17th and Douglas Khoo in 19th.
TCR International newcomers Roberto Colciago and Nicky Pastorelli were 12th and 18th quickestg in their Honda Civic and Ford Focus cars respectively.
Several drivers experienced technical issues, including Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Sergey Afanasyev, who completed just three laps due to gearbox issues. His fellow Russian, Mikhail Grachev, also had intercooler issues on his way to 13th fastest.
Liqui Moly Team Engstlers’ Davit Kajaia also stopped on the track at the end of the session after running out of fuel – the Georgian was 15th.
|1||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||12||2:16.241||0.000|
|2||2||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||9||2:16.850||0.609|
|3||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||11||2:17.390||1.149|
|4||9||Attila TASSI||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||12||2:17.492||1.251|
|5||1||Stefano COMINI||Leopard Racing||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||10||2:17.524||1.283|
|6||54||James NASH||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||13||2:17.716||1.475|
|7||50||Loris HEZEMANS||Target Competition||SEAT León TCR||12||2:17.847||1.606|
|8||24||Kevin GLEASON||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||12||2:17.929||1.688|
|9||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||12||2:17.930||1.689|
|10||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||B3 Racing Team Hungary||SEAT León TCR||13||2:18.124||1.883|
|11||28||Kevin TSE Wing Kin||Teamwork Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||12||2:19.008||2.767|
|12||5||Roberto COLCIAGO||Target Competition||Honda Civic TCR||13||2:19.252||3.011|
|13||8||Mikhail GRACHEV||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||8||2:19.253||3.012|
|14||20||Mario FERRARIS||Mulsanne Racing||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||11||2:19.446||3.205|
|15||7||Davit KAJAIA||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||10||2:19.466||3.225|
|16||83||Tin SRITRAI||Team Thailand||Honda Civic TCR||3||2:21.032||4.791|
|17||68||Filipe Clemente DE SOUZA||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||10||2:21.111||4.870|
|18||72||Nicky PASTORELLI||FRD Racing Team||Ford Focus TCR||10||2:21.464||5.223|
|19||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||SEAT León Cup Racer||12||2:21.984||5.743|
|20||27||Bill O’BRIEN||Teamwork Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||5||2:25.358||9.117|
|21||3||Andy YAN Cheuk Wai||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR||3||2:27.809||11.568|
|22||77||Sergey AFANASYEV||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León TCR||3||2:28.740||12.499|
|23||35||Rafaël GALIANA||Target Competition||Honda Civic TCR||4||2:39.292||23.051|
Qualifying takes place at 08:40 local time on Friday (01:40 BST, 02:40 CEST).