SEAT Sport driver Gabriele Tarquini posted the fastest lap during today’s test that opened the 2009 WTCC season.
During the dying minutes of the session, the Italian completed a lap of 1:25.497, ousting the BMW Team Germany duo of Augusto Farfus (1:25.554) and Jörg Müller (1:25.555) who had jumped on the top just a couple of minutes earlier.
Former champion Andy Priaulx (1:25.737) and reigning champion Yvan Muller (1:25.883) were fourth and fifth fastest respectively. Rickard Rydell, who broke first the 1:26. wall at mid-session, settled in sixth with a lap of 1:25.856.
Nicola Larini was the fastest of the Chevrolet men, driving his new Cruze car to the ninth best lap of 1:26.301, while Proteam Motorsport’s Félix Porteiro topped the Independents‘ class with a time of 1:26.785 good enough for the 11th position overall.
The best of the LADA cars – Jaap van Lagen’s – was classified in 17th with a gap of 2.2 seconds.
Tom Coronel and Kristian Poulsen did not clock any time; the former had to stop on the track when the engine of his SEAT died, while the latter did not hit the track at all due to a fuel pump failure.
Gabriele Tarquini said: "The team have done good job, because these were the cars‘ first laps after they were shipped from Europe. It is nice to start from the top; however heat will be a major problem during the weekend, as we are already two seconds slower compared to last year."
Gabriele Tarquini was fastest in the test session at Curitiba
DRIVERS MEET FANS AND MAYOR
Official proceedings to the WTCC season of 2009 got underway yesterday in the centre of Curitiba. A promotional day began with the drivers meeting the fans in two crowded autograph sessions in front of the HSBC palace, on the central Ruas das Flores.
Four FIA WTCC racing cars – SEAT, BMW, Chevrolet and LADA – were exhibited in front of the building.
In the afternoon drivers from the WTCC and the IRC joined the Mayor of Curitiba, Mr Beto Richa, Marcello Lotti, general manager of KSO and other local personalities, for a press conference and cocktail reception attended by large representation of media, at the elegant Parque das Pedreiras.
YVAN MULLER "ENJOYS" A RALLY RIDE
The opening event of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Brazil is twinned with the Rally Internacional de Curitiba, second round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge).
While the WTCC event began today with the test session, the rally will come to an end on Saturday afternoon in the service park set up behind the racetrack’s main grandstand.
Yesterday morning, the reigning WTCC champion Yvan Muller was a special guest at the Peugeot Belgium rally team, having a ride alongside his French countryman Nicolas Vouilloz (winner of the 2008 IRC). When asked if he enjoied the ride, Muller replied: "Enjoy is not the right word, because for a driver to be on the passenger seat is not an enjoyable feeling. I admit that after a couple of corners I was really tempted to switch off the ignition! But Nicolas drove very safely and now that I have survived I can say: it was an interesting experience!"
Yvan Muller on board Nicolas Vouilloz’s rally car