Gabriele Tarquini edges Yvan Muller in first Marrakech World Touring Car practice
|By Peter Mills||Saturday, April 14th 2012, 10:48 GMT|
Lukoil Racing's Gabriele Tarquini edged out World Touring Car Championship points leader Yvan Muller by 0.041 seconds to set the pace in the opening free practice session at the Moulay El Hassan street circuit in Marrakech on Saturday.
Fastest in Friday's test, Muller's RML Chevrolet team-mate Rob Huff headed the classification for much of the session. The Briton was demoted from top spot by Tarquini with seven minutes of the session and ended the morning in third.
Track temperatures were considerably warmer than during Friday's overcast test. Huff set the early running on a time 1m46.579s, ahead of the Tuenti SEAT Leon of Pepe Oriola and Alex MacDowall's bamboo Chevrolet Cruze.
Tarquini and Chilton took turns at the top, before Huff broke under the 1m46s mark midway through the half hour session. MacDowall held his position in the top six until suffering a quick spin at Turn 11.
Monza polesitter Tarquini set his fastest lap five minutes before the chequered flag, while reigning WTCC champion Muller left it until the closing minute of the session before threatening the 50-year-old's position.
Despite playing down a surprise second quickest effort in testing, WTCC rookie Tom Chilton again showed strongly in the Arena Ford Focus S2000 TC. The Reigate driver claimed fourth and top Yokohama Independent Trophy honours.
Franz Engstler's Team Engstler BMW took fifth ahead of the similar Wiechers-Sport entry of Valencia podium finisher Stefano D'Aste. The rear-wheel drive BMWs proved spectacular through the chicanes; Italian D'Aste was one of several drivers to explore the adhesion limits into the Turn 10 chicane, while Dutchman Tom Coronel escaped a huge brake lock-up at Turn 4 on way to seventh in his ROAL Motorsport machine.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT 1m45.165s 2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 1m45.206s + 0.041s 3. Rob Huff Chevrolet 1m45.496s + 0.331s 4. Tom Chilton Arena Ford 1m45.718s + 0.553s 5. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m46.357s + 1.192s 6. Stefano D'Aste Wiechers BMW 1m46.429s + 1.264s 7. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m46.443s + 1.278s 8. Pepe Oriola Tuenti SEAT 1m46.672s + 1.507s 9. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m46.719s + 1.554s 10. Tiago Monteiro Tuenti SEAT 1m46.868s + 1.703s 11. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m46.875s + 1.710s 12. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 1m46.991s + 1.826s 13. Alex MacDowall bamboo Chevrolet 1m47.072s + 1.907s 14. Darryl O'Young Special Tuning SEAT 1m47.102s + 1.937s 15. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 1m47.278s + 2.113s 16. James Nash Arena Ford 1m47.389s + 2.224s 17. Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW 1m47.497s + 2.332s 18. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 1m47.752s + 2.587s 19. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT 1m48.172s + 3.007s 20. Pasquale di Sabatino bamboo Chevrolet 1m48.604s + 3.439s 21. Isaac Tutumlu Proteam BMW 1m49.649s + 4.484s 22. Andrea Barlesi SUNRED SEAT 1m50.409s + 5.244s