Slovakia WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez quickest in free practice
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, May 10th 2014, 11:16 GMT|
World Touring Car Championship leader Jose Maria Lopez maintained his dominant position in Slovakia by topping both free practice sessions on Saturday.
In the morning's opening session, the Friday test pacesetter was again the only man to lap below 2m06s, recording a quickest lap of 2m05.867s. He then found a 0.4s improvement in the afternoon, although the Citroen racer was still some 0.261s slower than his Friday best.
Campos driver Hugo Valente continued his good recent form as he became the only other driver to break into the 2m05s in FP2. The Frenchman, who had earlier overstepped the limits of his RML-built Chevrolet Cruze and finished the morning session prematurely in the Turn 10 gravel trap, lost remarkably little time indulging in a dramatic slide during his lap of 2m05.718s.
The other Citroens of multiple champion Yvan Muller and World Rally legend Sebastien Loeb took third and fourth in both FP1 and FP2, with the best lap from Norbert Michelisz - the leading Honda runner - splitting the two Citroens over the two sessions.
Gabriele Tarquini managed fifth fastest in FP1, five places ahead of his factory Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro.
ROAL Motorsport's Tom Chilton recovered from losing a window on Friday to complete the FP1 top six. As in previous practice sessions this year, the Briton left it relatively late before setting a representative time and jumped up the order with seven minutes of the half-hour session remaining.
The change was one of few late movements in the classification, as Lopez's competitors were denied a final opportunity to displace him at the top of the timing screens.
The session was red-flagged and abandoned when an alternator belt problem caused Rob Huff's Lada to slow to a halt by the side of the road with a minute and a half left on the clock.
Huff had further dramas in the final practice session ahead of qualifying this afternoon. The 2012 champion executed a half spin on the approach to one of the circuit's artificial humps, but stopped his Granta short of the Armco.
Follow WTCC qualifying and both races as they happen on AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live this weekend
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 2m05.867s 8 2. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 2m06.090s +0.223s 9 3. Yvan Muller Citroen 2m06.347s +0.480s 8 4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2m06.651s +0.784s 9 5. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 2m06.684s +0.817s 8 6. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 2m06.761s +0.894s 8 7. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 2m06.960s +1.093s 11 8. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 2m07.400s +1.533s 8 9. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet 2m07.458s +1.591s 8 10. Tiago Monteiro Honda 2m07.577s +1.710s 8 11. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 2m07.688s +1.821s 8 12. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 2m07.769s +1.902s 9 13. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 2m07.897s +2.030s 9 14. Robert Huff Lada 2m09.000s +3.133s 9 15. James Thompson Lada 2m10.292s +4.425s 5 16. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 2m10.351s +4.484s 9 17. Petr Fulin Campos SEAT 2m14.106s +8.239s 10 18. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 2m14.144s +8.277s 9 19. John Filippi Campos SEAT 2m14.530s +8.663s 10 20. Pasquale Di Sabatino Engstler BMW 2m15.367s +9.500s 10 Practice 2 Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 2m05.469s 10 2. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 2m05.718s +0.249s 8 3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2m06.048s +0.579s 11 4. Yvan Muller Citroen 2m06.221s +0.752s 11 5. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 2m06.379s +0.910s 10 6. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 2m06.487s +1.018s 10 7. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet 2m06.545s +1.076s 12 8. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 2m06.589s +1.120s 10 9. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 2m06.649s +1.180s 8 10. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 2m06.666s +1.197s 9 11. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 2m06.911s +1.442s 12 12. Tiago Monteiro Honda 2m07.341s +1.872s 10 13. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 2m08.598s +3.129s 7 14. Robert Huff Lada 2m09.572s +4.103s 9 15. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 2m09.991s +4.522s 11 16. James Thompson Lada 2m11.903s +6.434s 4 17. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 2m12.943s +7.474s 9 18. Petr Fulin Campos SEAT 2m14.286s +8.817s 9 19. Pasquale Di Sabatino Engstler BMW 2m14.524s +9.055s 5 20. John Filippi Campos SEAT 2m15.418s +9.949s 3