Néstor Girolami leads the times in interrupted first practice

Néstor Girolami leads the times in interrupted first practice

Néstor Girolami
Photo: Clement Marin / DPPI

Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami was the fastest driver in Friday’s first FIA World Touring Car Cup practice session on the streets of Vila Real, as the session was twice interrupted by red flag periods.

Girolami went to the top of the timesheets in the last five minutes of the session, the Argentine putting his Honda clear by just over a tenth of a second with his lap of 2 minutes 1.971 seconds.

Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani – on the front row last year – was second after a late lap, the Moroccan denying Münnich Motorsport a 1-2 at the top of the times with Esteban Guerrieri in third.

Lynk & Co’s Yvan Muller was fourth fastest after the Frenchman improved his time in the final seconds of the session, just ahead of the leading Hyundai of Augusto Farfus in fifth, who likewise went faster just moments before Muller, having been 14th.

Norbert Michelisz followed his BRC Racing team-mate in sixth, ahead of last year’s race one pole-sitter Rob Huff in seventh, the SLR driver proving that the Volkswagens remain a force to be reckoned with on the street circuit.

Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini was eighth, with the CUPRA and Hyundai of Aurélien Panis and Nicky Catsburg completing the top ten respectively.

None of the Audis made it into the top ten, the best-placed RS3 being Jean-Karl Vernay in 18th, 1.7 seconds off the pace as the Ingolstadt marque’s cars struggled for pace early on around the fast street circuit.

The session saw two red flag periods, the first when a tyre stack was dislodged and had to be recovered, with a second red flag just a few minutes later which was quickly resolved.

Second practice takes place at 09:00 GMT / BST (10:00 CEST) on Saturday.

Session results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 18 2:01.971 0.000
2 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 18 2:02.133 0.162
3 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 19 2:02.188 0.217
4 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 14 2:02.497 0.526
5 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 20 2:02.646 0.675
6 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 18 2:02.800 0.829
7 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 16 2:02.839 0.868
8 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 15 2:02.854 0.883
9 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 18 2:02.929 0.958
10 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 18 2:03.038 1.067
11 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 16 2:03.274 1.303
12 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 19 2:03.433 1.462
13 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 18 2:03.508 1.537
14 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 18 2:03.534 1.563
15 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 19 2:03.570 1.599
16 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 20 2:03.618 1.647
17 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 16 2:03.643 1.672
18 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 14 2:03.672 1.701
19 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 17 2:03.681 1.710
20 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 17 2:03.721 1.750
21 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 19 2:03.995 2.024
22 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 18 2:04.807 2.836
23 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2:04.817 2.846
24 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 15 2:04.988 3.017
25 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 19 2:05.341 3.370
26 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 13 2:05.693 3.722