Qatar WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez leads Norbert Michelisz in test

Champion Jose Maria Lopez topped the World Touring Car Championship testing session in Qatar ahead of Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz, as the field enjoyed its first taste of Losail

Qatar WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez leads Norbert Michelisz in test

In a frenetic final few minutes, works Citroen driver Lopez usurped Sebastien Loeb Racing counterpart Mehdi Bennani with a best lap of 2m02.316s in his C-Elysee.

Michelisz, who has the chance to claim his second WTCC Independents' crown this weekend in his Honda, slotted into second as the chequered flag flew with an effort just over a quarter of a second shy of Lopez's best time.

That beat Bennani - the Hungarian's only rival for the Independents' title - into third.

Sebastien Loeb had led the opening stage of the session in his Citroen C-Elysee, before the session was brought to a halt after 10 minutes when Tiago Monteiro stopped his Honda Civic at Turn 6.

Loeb, making his final outing for Citroen this weekend, ended the session fifth fastest behind Hugo Valente, who was the best-placed of the Chevrolet runners.

Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller were sixth and seventh in the remaining works Citroens, having both traded fastest times with Loeb before the late flurry of laps, while Nicolas Lapierre was the only Lada driver to make the top 10 in eighth.

John Filippi was an impressive ninth in the second Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze ahead of ROAL Motorsport's Tom Chilton.

Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah was 16th in his first competitive WTCC session, finishing with a best time that was 3.956s off Lopez's benchmark.

Monteiro aside, Rob Huff was the only man not to set a competitive time, the Briton's Lada Vesta suffering a gearbox oil leak early on in the session.

RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap Laps
1 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 2m02.316s - 12
2 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m02.602s 0.286s 11
3 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2m02.805s 0.489s 13
4 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 2m03.361s 1.045s 11
5 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 2m03.405s 1.089s 12
6 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 2m03.460s 1.144s 12
7 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 2m03.600s 1.284s 13
8 Nicolas Lapierre LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 2m03.788s 1.472s 10
9 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 2m04.052s 1.736s 10
10 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2m04.583s 2.267s 11
11 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2m04.596s 2.280s 13
12 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 2m04.886s 2.570s 12
13 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 2m05.184s 2.868s 11
14 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 2m05.269s 2.953s 11
15 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2m05.526s 3.210s 7
16 Nasser Al-Attiyah Campos Racing Chevrolet 2m06.272s 3.956s 10
17 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 4m47.576s 2m45.260s 3
18 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda - - 1


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