Denis Dupont’s late surge to the top of the time sheets gave the SEAT Leon driver the bragging rights in the second TCR International Series practice session at Dubai Autodrome.
Pepe Oriola similarly improved at the last to put his Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT second quickest, a mere 0.036 seconds slower than Dupont around the 3.3 mile circuit.
Hyundai’s Alain Menu led a sizeable portion of the session having gone quickest in the i30 at half-distance, but was ultimately forced to settle for third.
Aurelien Comte was another late improver to fourth, ahead of the championship favourite Jean-Karl Vernay’s Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR.
His closest rival, M1RA’s Attila Tassi, did at least make the second practice session after an engine sensor issue denied him a representative lap time in the first, but the Hungarian could still only manage 18th.
Reigning champion and another contender with a mathematical chance of taking the honours, Stefano Comini, was eighth fastest behind first practice pace-setter Frederic Vervisch and Gianni Morbidelli’s WestCoast Racing Volkswagen.
Josh Files was an improved ninth though will still need to find more pace in qualifying to be a useful asset in the title fight to Tassi – the TCR Middle East champion is racing in Dubai for the first time having skipped the season opener at the Autodrome earlier this year.
Benjamin Leuchter rounded out the ten fastest runners, whilst Gordon Shedden continued his education in TCR machinery en route to 14th fastest – the Scot believes there is more performance to be extracted from the Golf GTi during qualifying.
Roberto Colciago was another title challenger to fall by the wayside as he joined Tassi in the heart of the midfield with 15th.
That meant he still marginally out-paced 16th quickest Gabrielle Tarquini, though with team-mate Menu at the sharp end of the action that suggests the veteran Italian disguised the true potential of his Hyundai i30 in the half-hour session.
Qualifying is due to get underway at 11:50 GMT, with the first session set to eliminate the slowest runners before the rest progress to Q2 to decide the grid for tomorrow’s double-header.
|1||4||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||SEAT León TCR||13||1:28.510||0.000|
|2||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||14||1:28.546||0.036|
|3||33||Alain MENU||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||1:28.600||0.090|
|4||27||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Opel Astra TCR||14||1:28.745||0.235|
|5||2||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team WRT||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||17||1:28.779||0.269|
|6||6||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||15||1:28.800||0.290|
|7||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||West Coast Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||7||1:28.859||0.349|
|8||1||Stefano COMINI||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||15||1:28.948||0.438|
|9||95||Josh FILES||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||15||1:28.956||0.446|
|10||13||Benjamin LEUCHTER||West Coast Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||17||1:28.985||0.475|
|11||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||GE-Force||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||15||1:29.022||0.512|
|12||17||Daniel LLOYD||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||17||1:29.133||0.623|
|13||54||James NASH||Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing||SEAT León TCR||14||1:29.139||0.629|
|14||73||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team WRT||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||16||1:29.339||0.829|
|15||5||Roberto COLCIAGO||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||16||1:29.457||0.947|
|16||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||14||1:29.466||0.956|
|17||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Opel Astra TCR||14||1:29.674||1.164|
|18||9||Attila TASSI||M1RA||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||14||1:29.780||1.270|
|19||16||Davit KAJAIA||GE-Force||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||16||1:29.932||1.422|
|20||28||Aurélien PANIS||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type-R TCR||15||1:30.484||1.974|
|21||18||Duncan ENDE||Icarus Motorsports||SEAT León TCR||16||1:31.018||2.508|