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Gabriele Tarquini edges Yvan Muller in first Marrakech World Touring Car practice

Gabriele Tarquini, Lukoil SEATLukoil 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
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