Paul Ricard WTCC: Hugo Valente's Chevrolet leads Saturday practice
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, April 19th 2014, 11:14 GMT|
Campos Chevrolet driver Hugo Valente set the fastest time in free practice for round two of the World Touring Car championship at Paul Ricard.
Privateer-run, RML-built, Chevrolet Cruze TC1s occupied the top two positions in Saturday's faster second practice session.
Fresh from his maiden WTCC podium in Marrakech last weekend, Valente's quickest time of 1m30.673s edged out the singleton ROAL Motorsport entry of Tom Chilton by 0.129 seconds.
Valente had also flown in the morning, when he was second fastest behind Sebastien Loeb, and 0.002s ahead of championship leader Jose Maria Lopez in third.
It would have been a Cruze top-three sweep in practice two had Tiago Monteiro not shot up from 11th to third in the final two minutes of the half-hour session. The factory Honda driver displaced Valente's team-mate Dusan Borkovic.
Reigning WTCC champion Yvan Muller bounced back from a troubled first session to finish as lead Citroen in fifth.
None of the three fancied Citroen drivers matched their earlier practice pace in the second session.
Triple TC2000 champion Jose Maria Lopez completed the practice two top six, finishing 0.016s ahead of Gabriele Tarquini.
The Italian is set to make a belated start to his 2014 WTCC campaign this weekend, having been forced to miss both races in Marrakech when his Civic WTCC was written off in a practice accident.
LOEB SET EARLY PACE
On a circuit where he has tested extensively, World Rally legend Loeb continued his impressive transition to the WTCC by setting the fastest time in first practice.
The Citroen star was the only man to dip below the 1m31s mark in the morning, thanks to a time of 1m30.891s.
Loeb's practice one pace preceded a more subdued later showing where he ended up ninth.
After being taken out of race two in Marrakech in a startline accident involving Tom Coronel, Citroen's title favourite Muller is playing catch-up this weekend.
His difficulties followed him to Le Castellet, as he clipped a stack of tyres marking the Mistral straight chicane mid-way through practice one.
The C-Elysee's front-right bodywork was damaged, prompting red flags and restricting Muller's running to four laps.
Follow both Paul Ricard WTCC races as they happen with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live on Sunday April 20
Practice one: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1m30.891s 2. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 1m31.037s +0.146s 3. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1m31.039s +0.148s 4. Yvan Muller Citroen 1m31.390s +0.499s 5. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 1m31.489s +0.598s 6. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m31.664s +0.773s 7. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m31.747s +0.856s 8. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m31.893s +1.002s 9. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 1m32.312s +1.421s 10. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 1m32.589s +1.698s 11. James Thompson Lada 1m32.604s +1.713s 12. Rob Huff Lada 1m32.887s +1.996s 13. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 1m32.889s +1.998s 14. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 1m33.134s +2.243s 15. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m33.725s +2.834s 16. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m35.707s +4.816s* 17. Pasquale di Sabatino Engstler BMW 1m36.369s +5.478s* 18. John Filippi Campos SEAT 1m36.927s +6.036s* * TC2 Practice two: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 1m30.673s 2. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 1m30.802s +0.129s 3. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m31.162s +0.489s 4. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 1m31.222s +0.549s 5. Yvan Muller Citroen 1m31.483s +0.810s 6. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1m31.562s +0.889s 7. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m31.578s +0.905s 8. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m31.667s +0.994s 9. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1m31.712s +1.039s 10. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 1m31.757s +1.084s 11. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 1m31.884s +1.211s 12. Rob Huff Lada 1m32.074s +1.401s 13. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 1m32.499s +1.826s 14. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m32.736s +2.063s 15. James Thompson Lada 1m33.355s +2.682s 16. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m35.027s +4.354s* 17. John Filippi Campos SEAT 1m35.786s +5.113s* 18. Pasquale di Sabatino Engstler BMW 1m35.797s +5.124s* * TC2