Frédéric Vervisch topped the timesheets in the opening TCR International Series practice session at the Dubai Autodrome ahead of the championship’s title-deciding double header this weekend.
The Belgian rose to the top of the time sheets with five minutes of the half hour session remaining, clocking a fastest time of 1.28.806 behind the wheel of his Audi RS 3 LMS TCR.
His compatriot and team-mate Denis Dupont came within 0.049 seconds of eclipsing him with a similarly late effort, but was forced to settle for the runner-up spot.
Hyundai disguised their pace during the opening exchanges of the session but hit the front at half-distance, Gabrielle Tarquini heading Alain Menu by three tenths of a second as the pair settled for third and fourth at the chequered flag.
Pepe Oriola had consistently lowered the benchmark during the early running but ended up fifth for Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing in the SEAT Leon, ahead of the first of the championship contenders in Jean-Karl Vernay (Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR).
Vernay’s closest challenger for the title, M1RA’s Attila Tassi, scarcely left the pit lane throughout the session and concluded the standings, some 23 seconds adrift.
Stefano Comini and Roberto Colciago, the only other two men with a mathematical chance of taking the honours this weekend, propped up the midfield in 14th and 17th respectively.
WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli took seventh ahead of James Nash and Benjamin Leuchter.
Three-time British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden had never driven the Leopard Racing Team WRT Volkswagen Golf GTi before landing in Dubai ahead of the weekend, but the Scot took to the task with aplomb and rounded out the top ten ahead of some notable names in the category.
That included TCR Germany champion Josh Files (M1RA) and Dusan Borkovic, twice a race winner in Bahrain and Austria already this season, with the latter surviving a sideways moment at Turn 7 in his Alfa Romeo Guilietta.
Georgia winner Davit Kajaia emphaised the Guilietta’s particular reluctance to change direction at high-speed, and could only manage 20th.
They weren’t the only ones to suffer at the sharp right-hander, however, with Oriola, Comini and Vervisch all misjudging their cornering speed at different stages in the session.
The second practice session gets underway at 07:50 GMT ahead of qualifying at 11:50 GMT.
|1||6||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||15||1:28.806||0.000|
|2||4||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||SEAT León TCR||15||1:28.855||0.049|
|3||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||17||1:29.196||0.390|
|4||33||Alain MENU||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||1:29.548||0.742|
|5||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||16||1:29.591||0.785|
|6||2||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team WRT||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||17||1:29.627||0.821|
|7||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||West Coast Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||1:29.635||0.829|
|8||54||James NASH||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||15||1:29.735||0.929|
|9||13||Benjamin LEUCHTER||West Coast Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||16||1:29.753||0.947|
|10||73||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team WRT||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||17||1:30.000||1.194|
|11||95||Josh FILES||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||16||1:30.008||1.202|
|12||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||GE-Force||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||14||1:30.039||1.233|
|13||17||Daniel LLOYD||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||13||1:30.096||1.290|
|14||1||Stefano COMINI||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||16||1:30.152||1.346|
|15||27||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Opel Astra TCR||9||1:30.397||1.591|
|16||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Opel Astra TCR||15||1:30.492||1.686|
|17||5||Roberto COLCIAGO||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||15||1:30.586||1.780|
|18||18||Duncan ENDE||Icarus Motorsports||SEAT León TCR||17||1:30.856||2.050|
|19||28||Aurélien PANIS||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||15||1:31.129||2.323|
|20||16||Davit KAJAIA||GE-Force||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||5||1:49.677||20.871|
|21||9||Attila TASSI||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||4||No time||N/A|