Thed Björk heads YMR 1-2 in first WTCR practice session in Morocco

Thed Björk headed YMR team-mate Yvan Muller in first practice for the all-new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) on the streets of Marrakech, with the session taking place on a damp track.

The early pace in the session was set by Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff, whose first efforts were in the high 1 minute 34 seconds. But a drying line soon started to emerge, and after just over ten minutes BRC Racing’s Norbert Michelisz took over at the top of the times.

However it was Björk who would be at the top for the longest, with the reigning WTCC champion putting in a lap of 1 minute 33.209 seconds just after the halfway stage and remaining on top thereafter, his times improving until he put in a 1:32.821 on his last attempt.

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Muller was second quickest in the second YMR Hyundai, just 0.041 seconds slower, ahead of Huff in third, who ended up 0.070 seconds adrift.

Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola was fourth fastest with a lap of 1:33.079, the Spaniard improving towards the end, ahead of the leading Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay in fifth – although the Frenchman was one of several drivers to take to the Turn 1 escape road in the session as he pushed to the limits.

Michelisz ended the session in sixth, immediately ahead of Hyundai’s development driver from last year Gabriele Tarquini in seventh.

Yann Ehrlacher was the leading Honda driver in eighth, 0.578 seconds off the pace, whilst the Alfa Romeo of Fabrizio Giovanardi and the second Münnich Motorsport Honda of Esteban Guerrieri completed the top ten.

Outside of the top ten, were a variety of WTCR rookies, whilst last-minute Münnich Motorsport signing James Thompson managed to put in a respectable 11th fastest time despite a lack of recent experience in touring cars.

BTCC champion Gordon Shedden endured a difficult session, with brake problems curtailing the Scot’s running in the second Leopard Lukoil Audi, as he ended up 24th out of 25 cars and 2.6 seconds off the pace, completing the fewest laps of any driver.

Zsolt Szabó propped up the timesheets, and the Hungarian CUPRA driver ended the session in the barriers with damage to the right-rear corner of his car.

Second practice takes place at 11:00 BST (12:00 CEST).

Session results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 11 Thed BJÖRK YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 16 1:32.821 0.000
2 48 Yvan MULLER YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 1:32.862 0.041
3 12 Rob HUFF Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 16 1:32.891 0.070
4 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 17 1:33.079 0.258
5 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 17 1:33.232 0.411
6 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 1:33.315 0.494
7 30 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 1:33.340 0.519
8 68 Yann EHRLACHER ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 15 1:33.399 0.578
9 88 Fabrizio GIOVANARDI Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 15 1:33.729 0.908
10 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 13 1:33.779 0.958
11 15 James THOMPSON ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 16 1:33.797 0.976
12 23 Nathanaël BERTHON Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:33.836 1.015
13 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 13 1:34.029 1.208
14 63 Benjamin LESSENNES Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic TCR 14 1:34.176 1.355
15 25 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 1:34.271 1.450
16 8 Norbert NAGY Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 13 1:34.436 1.615
17 9 Tom CORONEL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic TCR 10 1:34.459 1.638
18 27 John FILIPPI Team Oscaro by Campos Racing CUPRA TCR 14 1:34.516 1.695
19 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Audi Sport Team Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:34.550 1.729
20 7 Aurélien COMTE DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 11 1:34.597 1.776
21 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 14 1:34.757 1.936
22 20 Denis DUPONT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS 16 1:34.931 2.110
23 70 Mat’o HOMOLA DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 11 1:34.948 2.127
24 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS 10 1:35.419 2.598
25 66 Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ Zengő Motorsport CUPRA TCR 15 1:36.396 3.575
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