The Chevrolet trio of Yvan Muller, Rob Huff and Alain Menu posted the fastest laps in todays test at Suzuka. During this very first session, all three drivers in the works Cruze cars were able to beat last years WTCC track record on the East Circuit (53.443).
As soon as the testing resumed after the second red flag, Muller (53.129), Huff (53.225) and Menu (53.442) proved the fastest of the field once again, while their competitors efforts to improve were frustrated by a third red flag.
Pepe Oriolas SEAT León (53.810) was classified fourth with a gap of nearly seven tenths from the lead. Lukoil Racing team mates Gabriele Tarquini (53.826) and Aleksei Dudukalo (54.042) ranked fifth and sixth, followed by Tom Coronel (54.136) in the fastest of the BMW cars and Alex MacDowalls bamboo Chevrolet (54.138).
Tiago Monteiro drove the new Honda Civic to set the ninth fastest lap (54.147), ahead of Norbert Micheliszs BMW (54.179).
The fastest of the Team Aon Ford Focus cars was Tom Chiltons, in 12th position.
The session was red flagged three times. A first time, with twelve minutes left on the clock, when Gabriele Tarquini spun and beached his SEAT car at Turn 4, then again, with five minutes to go, when Alberto Cerquis BMW got stranded off Turn 6, and finally for good when Charles Ngs BMW went off at Turn 1, thirty seconds before the end.
A few other drivers had moments. Stefano DAste spun on his first lap; Norbert Michelisz and Fernando Monje performed 360-degree pirouettes at Turn 9; René Münnich and Tom Coronel went wide at Turn 7 and Turn 1 respectively. But they all managed to rejoin without damage.
MONTEIRO: WE ARE RIGHT ON SCHEDULE
Tiago Monteiro set the ninth fastest lap in todays test session at at Suzuka, on the very first outing of his Honda Civic in the World Touring Car Championship.
Monteiros fastest lap of 54.147 was one second off Yvan Mullers the leading pace.
It was not bad. To be one second behind the Chevrolet cars after only a couple of months of work is a good starting point. Especially when we see that they have improved last years track record, commented the Portuguese racer.
It feels good to be here, comparing ourselves with the rest of the field. We stay stick to our plan of developing the car, but it was nice to be in the middle of the field. We have some additional information now, and we will analyze them to see where we may improve. This first test was interesting and we are quite happy for what we are doing so far. We are right on schedule.
Your goal was to make the top ten and you achieved it. Yes, the red flags came at the wrong times for me, as for a few other people, but we are where we wanted to be. And now we have to try and be closer. I pushed hard, without going for a qualifying set up. The car was rather set up for the races. So, there is a margin of improvement, no doubt about it. Both for the car and myself.
CHINA DRAGON RACING IN SHANGHAI AND MACAU
The China Dragon Racing team will join WTCC in force for the two final race meetings of the season. The Chinese outfit have entered two Chevrolet cars in Shanghai (4 November) and three in Macau (18 November).
Filipe Clemente De Souza and Ng Kin Veng will race in both events at the wheel of a Lacetti and a Cruze 2.0L respectively. They will be joined by Célio Alves Dias in a second Lacetti for the Macau Guia Race
The three Chevys are former RML WTCC machines, while the three Macanese drivers are regular competitors of the local Touring Car series. De Souza has already taken part in last years WTCC event at Macau, claiming a 15th position in Race 1.