Norbert Michelisz tops the times in first practice in Malaysia

Norbert Michelisz tops the times in first practice in Malaysia

Norbert Michelisz
Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz topped the times in first practice for the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Sepang in Malaysia, with the championship leader pipping Honda’s Néstor Girolami to the top time by just 0.035 seconds.

Girolami emerged as the closest challenger to Michelisz’s pace, but none of the Hungarian’s title rivals were able to get close to his speed, with 15th-placed Esteban Guerrieri the best of Michelisz’s rivals.

PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona was third fastest in his CUPRA, just over a tenth shy, ahead of the WRT-run Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay in fourth.

Malaysian wildcard entry Mitchell Cheah was an impressive fifth fastest in his Team Engstler Hyundai, ahead of KCMG’s Brazilian wildcard João Paulo de Oliveira in sixth in his Honda.

Frédéric Vervisch put his Comtoyou Racing Audi in seventh, ahead of reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini’s Hyundai in eighth.

The top ten was completed by the Comtoyou Racing CUPRA of Aurélien Panis and the BRC Hyundai of Nicky Catsburg.

It was a worrying session for the Lynk & Co drivers, as Andy Priaulx was the only one of the Cyan Racing quartet to break into the top twenty, in 20th, some 1.4 seconds off the pace.

Title contenders Thed Björk and Yvan Muller were just 25th and 26th respectively, almost two seconds off the pace.

Session results

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP
1 5 Norbert MICHELISZ BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 13 2:15.124 0.000
2 29 Néstor GIROLAMI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 2:15.159 0.035
3 96 Mikel AZCONA PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 15 2:15.237 0.113
4 69 Jean-Karl VERNAY Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 2:15.418 0.294
5 27 Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie Hyundai Team Engstler Hyundai i30 N TCR 14 2:15.551 0.427
6 38 João Paulo Lima DE OLIVEIRA KC Motorgroup Honda Civic Type R TCR 13 2:15.604 0.480
7 22 Frédéric VERVISCH Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 6 2:15.688 0.564
8 1 Gabriele TARQUINI BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 2:15.694 0.570
9 21 Aurélien PANIS Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 11 2:15.789 0.665
10 88 Nicky CATSBURG BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 12 2:15.792 0.668
11 33 Benjamin LEUCHTER SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 12 2:15.932 0.808
12 14 Johan KRISTOFFERSSON SLR Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 2:15.978 0.854
13 31 Kevin CECCON Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 16 2:16.108 0.984
14 55 Ma QING HUA Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 12 2:16.212 1.088
15 86 Esteban GUERRIERI ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 2:16.410 1.286
16 10 Niels LANGEVELD Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 2:16.432 1.308
17 15 Hafizh SYAHRIN Bin Abdullah Hyundai Team Engstler Hyundai i30 N TCR 16 2:16.526 1.402
18 37 Daniel HAGLÖF PWR Racing CUPRA TCR 13 2:16.563 1.439
19 18 Tiago MONTEIRO KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 12 2:16.598 1.474
20 111 Andy PRIAULX Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 2:16.601 1.477
21 25 Mehdi BENNANI SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 2:16.677 1.553
22 8 Augusto FARFUS BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 11 2:16.713 1.589
23 12 Rob HUFF SLR VW Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 2:16.817 1.693
24 52 Gordon SHEDDEN Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 12 2:16.872 1.748
25 11 Thed BJÖRK Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 12 2:17.000 1.876
26 100 Yvan MULLER Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 12 2:17.102 1.978
27 9 Attila TASSI KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR 11 2:17.436 2.312
28 50 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing CUPRA TCR 9 2:17.504 2.380
29 68 Yann EHRLACHER Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR 10 2:17.533 2.409
30 65 Douglas KHOO Kok Hui Viper Niza Racing CUPRA TCR 14 2:20.021 4.897