Honda’s Norbert Michelisz dominated the second World Touring Car Championship practice session at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, going seven tenths clear of team-mate Esteban Guerrieri.
Although Michelisz had set the pace early on in the session, it was his team-mate Esteban Guerrieri who was on top for the longest time period, with a lap of 2 minutes 1.857 seconds initially, before he improved to 2:00.441 in the last five minutes.
But title contender Michelisz was in determined form and with just minutes to go the Hungarian went quickest by a comfortable seven tenths margin with his effort of 1:59.739 – smashing the Losail circuit’s lap record in the process.
That meant that third-placed Nicky Catsburg, the best of the Volvo drivers, was the only other driver to be within a second of Michelisz’s pace, nine tenths adrift.
Championship leader Thed Björk was fourth in his Volvo, ahead of the leading Citroën of Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff in fifth, and fellow Brit Tom Chilton in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën in sixth.
Honda’s Ryo Michigami was seventh, despite missing the early running in the session and then stopping on the circuit at the end with an issue on his Civic.
Dramas in the first minutes of the session saw an on-track clash between Zengő Motorsport’s Zsolt Szabó and RC Motorsport’s Yann Ehrlacher. Szabo appeared to not check his mirrors when warming his tyres, clattering into the LADA before spinning across the circuit and narrowly avoiding team-mate Dániel Nagy, who had to take avoiding action.
Whilst Ehrlacher limped back to the pits and received repairs to his car, Szabó was out on the spot. Ehrlacher then went on to re-join the session half-way through and post the ninth best time.
Volvo’s returning Yvan Muller, who has taken Néstor Girolami’s seat for the season finale, was only 11th, some three seconds off the pace under the Qatari floodlights.
Qualifying is scheduled to take place in daylight at 14:30 local time (11:30 GMT, 12:30 CET).
|1||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||15||1:59.739||0.000|
|2||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||13||2:00.441||0.702|
|3||63||Nicky CATSBURG||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||15||2:00.689||0.950|
|4||62||Thed BJÖRK||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||12||2:00.893||1.154|
|5||12||Rob HUFF||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||16||2:01.231||1.492|
|6||3||Tom CHILTON||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||14||2:02.275||2.536|
|7||34||Ryo MICHIGAMI||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda Civic WTCC||8||2:02.512||2.773|
|8||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||15||2:02.614||2.875|
|9||68||Yann EHRLACHER||RC Motorsport||LADA Vesta WTCC||10||2:02.858||3.119|
|10||27||John FILIPPI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||15||2:02.949||3.210|
|11||64||Yvan MULLER||Polestar Cyan Racing||Volvo S60 Polestar||16||2:02.972||3.233|
|12||11||Kris RICHARD||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||12||2:03.547||3.808|
|13||9||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||2:03.571||3.832|
|14||24||Kevin GLEASON||RC Motorsport||LADA Vesta WTCC||17||2:03.623||3.884|
|15||99||Dániel NAGY||Zengő Motorsport Kft||Honda Civic WTCC||13||2:04.628||4.889|
|16||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport Kft||Honda Civic WTCC||0||No time||N/A|