Rob Huff tops Marrakech WTCC test for Chevrolet
|By Peter Mills||Friday, April 13th 2012, 15:18 GMT|
Rob Huff set the fastest time in the World Touring Car Championship's half hour of testing on the streets of Marrakech on Friday afternoon; Chevrolet's British driver recording a laptime of 1m46.285s.
Huff's marker was a huge 0.829s faster than his closest challenger; Tom Chilton, who turned in an encouraging performance for the Arena Ford team in a Focus 20kg lighter than previously due to the compensation weight system coming into force for the season in Morocco.
"We are running two very different set-ups on each car," said Arena team manager Alan Cole. "One is going very well, and unfortunately the other [driven by James Nash] isn't up there yet."
Alain Menu, a winner last time out at Valencia, was third fastest in the second of the RML-run factory Cruzes, ahead of Lukoil SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini. The Italian's Leon is running 30kg heavier than at Valencia due to compensation weight changes.
WTCC rookie Alex MacDowall again impressed. The Bamboo-Engineering racer was best-placed independent runner in fifth, indicating a return to competitiveness of the Cruze runners following a tough meeting in Spain. As the series' benchmark car, the Cruzes continue to carry the maximum 40kg ballast
Fresh from the FIA GT1 World Championship season opener at Nogaro last Monday, Hong Kong racer Darryl O'Young swiftly reacclimatised to his Special Tuning SEAT to complete the top six.
Championship leader Yvan Muller was seventh for Chevrolet, ahead of the Engstler BMW of its owner Franz Engstler. The German was unconcerned by the extra 20kg of ballast that the BMW runners now carry.
"The extra weight on the car is not hurting us too much here," said Engstler. "It would be much worse if this street circuit was a real city track with more corners."
Zengo Motorsport is fielding a single BMW for Norbert Michelisz this weekend. The Hungarian team's second driver, Gabor Weber, is absent owing to combination of a fractured scaphoid to his left hand and an engine failure in Valencia.
"It definitely is going to hurt us not having Gabor here," said Michelisz. "There is no upside as I can't use his car to compare set-up, and I don't have his information on hand to compare to. I lost most of the session sitting in the pits with engine problems, and then when I went out I had to bed-in the brakes."
SUNRED driver Fernando Monje is also missing from action this weekend. The Spaniard is focusing his efforts on a race-winning campaign in the European Touring Car Cup, but is expected to return to the WTCC for the Algarve, Sears Point and Asian meetings.