Pepe Oriola was the fastest driver in a significantly delayed first practice session for the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) on the streets of Wuhan in China, putting his CUPRA on top late in the session.
The session was only five minutes in when Team Mulsanne’s Fabrizio Giovanardi went off at the chicane on his first flying lap, the Italian missing his braking point and hitting the barriers.
Although Giovanardi was unscathed, both his Alfa Romeo and the barriers were not and it took over an hour to sufficiently repair the concrete wall and associated catch fencing by the side of the track.
When the session resumed there were naturally improvements all around, before Oriola went to the top of the times in the closing minutes with an effort of 1 minute 24.006 seconds.
That put the Spaniard over half a second clear of the Comtoyou Racing Audi of Nathanaël Berthon in second, whilst WRT’s Gordon Shedden was third quickest in a promising early start for the team, who endured so many difficulties at the last round.
DG Sport’s Aurélien Comte put his Peugeot in fourth, ahead of a trio of Audis headed up by Comtoyou Racing’s Denis Dupont on fifth.
WRT’s Jean-Karl Vernay had earlier been on top of the times but ended up in sixth, seven tenths off the pace, ahead of Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch in seventh.
The top ten was completed by the Münnich Motorsport Honda of Yann Ehrlacher in eighth, the YMR Hyundai of Yvan Muller in ninth and the second DG Sport Peugeot of Mat’o Homola in tenth.
The best of the Volkswagen runners was Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff in 11th, the Brit being the only driver on the grid with some prior experience of the circuit, although he could only lap over a second off the pace.
Championship leader Gabriele Tarquini could only manage the 18th quickest time, 1.669 seconds adrift, although the veteran Italian was ahead of BRC Racing team-mate Norbert Michelisz, who was just 20th.
A second, ten-minute, red flag stoppage was required when Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Tom Coronel went off into the tyres at the chicane; the Dutchman ended up in 22nd.
|1||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||16||1:24.006||0.000|
|2||23||Nathanaël BERTHON||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||15||1:24.517||0.511|
|3||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||14||1:24.587||0.581|
|4||7||Aurélien COMTE||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||1:24.699||0.693|
|5||20||Denis DUPONT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||15||1:24.703||0.697|
|6||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS||15||1:24.708||0.702|
|7||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS||16||1:24.742||0.736|
|8||68||Yann EHRLACHER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||18||1:24.875||0.869|
|9||48||Yvan MULLER||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||16||1:25.127||1.121|
|10||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||DG Sport Compétition||Peugeot 308 TCR||18||1:25.132||1.126|
|11||12||Rob HUFF||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||15||1:25.233||1.227|
|12||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||18||1:25.240||1.234|
|13||11||Thed BJÖRK||YMR||Hyundai i30 N TCR||17||1:25.267||1.261|
|14||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS||18||1:25.308||1.302|
|15||25||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||19||1:25.459||1.453|
|16||42||Timo SCHEIDER||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||19||1:25.600||1.594|
|17||55||MA Qing Hua||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||13||1:25.605||1.599|
|18||30||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||16||1:25.675||1.669|
|19||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||16||1:25.729||1.723|
|20||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||19||1:25.790||1.784|
|21||66||Zsolt Dávid SZABÓ||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||15||1:25.845||1.839|
|22||9||Tom CORONEL||Boutsen Ginion Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR||8||1:26.178||2.172|
|23||8||Norbert NAGY||Zengő Motorsport||CUPRA TCR||17||1:26.180||2.174|
|24||27||John FILIPPI||Team Oscaro by Campos Racing||CUPRA TCR||16||1:26.688||2.682|
|25||88||Fabrizio GIOVANARDI||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||1||No time||N/A|