Shanghai WTCC: Alex MacDowall leads Friday test
|By Peter Mills||Friday, November 2nd 2012, 07:52 GMT|
Bamboo Engineering's Alex MacDowall set the fastest lap in testing for the penultimate round of the World Touring Car Championship at Shanghai.
The Suzuka Independents' class winner's 1m56.304s lap was 0.042 seconds faster than championship challenger Rob Huff's similar RML-run factory Cruze.
Huff is tied on 345 points with three-time champion Yvan Muller at the top of the drivers' standings, and is fighting for his first WTCC drivers' title to crown an eight-year stint in the championship.
Three-time champion Muller ended a cloudy but warm afternoon sixth fastest. The third factory Chevrolet of Alain Menu, the other title contender, could only manage 11th fastest. The Swiss driver is 38 points adrift in the standings.
Leading times in the half-hour test were closely fought, and Spaniard Pepe Oriola finished within a tenth of MacDowall's benchmark in third. The SUNRED SEAT driver made strong inroads into Norbert Michelisz's Independents' points lead in Japan, taking second position at Suzuka a fortnight ago.
Tiago Monteiro provided a boost for the fledgling factory Honda Civic programme by briefly topping the times and ending the afternoon fourth.
Enjoying his maiden WTCC appearance of 2012, Colin Turkington signalled that he could mix it with the series regulars at Shanghai by securing fifth fastest aboard his WSR Chevrolet.
An incident at Turn 11, when a car hit a pack of tyres, caused the test to be red-flagged with eight minutes remaining. Turkington and the top three men were the only drivers to improve their times after the session was restarted.
ROAL Motorsport's Tom Coronel was the leading BMW driver in seventh, ahead of MacDowall's Bamboo team-mate Darryl O'Young.
Independent SEAT racers Tom Boardman and Fernando Monje completed the top 10. Monje, Mehdi Bennani and newcomers Alex Liu and Kelvin Leong survived quick spins while exploring the track limits.
French SEAT Leon Supercopa ace Hugo Valente was 23rd fastest for SUNRED on his WTCC debut.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 1m56.304s 2. Rob Huff Chevrolet 1m56.346s + 0.042s 3. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT 1m56.387s + 0.083s 4. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m56.439s + 0.135s 5. Colin Turkington WSR Chevrolet 1m56.651s + 0.347s 6. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 1m56.653s + 0.349s 7. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m56.735s + 0.431s 8. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet 1m56.785s + 0.481s 9. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 1m56.931s + 0.627s 10. Fernando Monje SUNRED SEAT 1m57.184s + 0.880s 11. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m57.188s + 0.884s 12. James Nash Arena Ford 1m57.316s + 1.012s 13. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 1m57.360s + 1.056s 14. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT 1m57.423s + 1.119s 15. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT 1m57.437s + 1.133s 16. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m57.532s + 1.228s 17. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW 1m57.607s + 1.303s 18. Tom Chilton Arena Ford 1m57.688s + 1.384s 19. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 1m58.093s + 1.789s 20. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m58.169s + 1.865s 21. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 1m58.506s + 2.202s 22. Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW 1m58.625s + 2.321s 23. Hugo Valente SUNRED SEAT 1m59.455s + 3.151s 24. Eric Kwong Look Fong Chevrolet 2m02.316s + 6.012s 25. Kelvin Leong Song Veng Honda 2m03.078s + 6.774s 26. Filipe de Souza China Dragon Chevrolet 2m03.123s + 6.819s 27. Kin Veng Ng China Dragon Chevrolet 2m04.707s + 8.403s 28. Alex Liu Engstler BMW 2m06.325s + 10.021s