Rio Hondo WTCC: Michelisz and Catsburg fastest in practice sessions

Honda's Norbert Michelisz and the Volvo of Nicky Catsburg topped a pair of fog-affected World Touring Car Championship practice sessions at Termas de Rio Hondo

Rio Hondo WTCC: Michelisz and Catsburg fastest in practice sessions

Michelisz was fastest in a truncated first practice, which was red flagged with more than 10 minutes of the session remaining due to a lack of visibility.

The start of half-hour session was delayed by 45 minutes and got underway at 0915 local time, but a mid-session stoppage and the later red flag rendered much of the half-hour session redundant.

Between the stoppages, Michelisz achieved a 1m44.170s lap of the Argentinian venue to beat team-mate Tiago Monteiro to the fastest time by 0.428 seconds.

The Volvo S60 Polestars of Catsburg and team-mate Nestor Girolami placed third and fifth, sandwiching the Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysee of Mehdi Bennani.

Practice two was also delayed by 10 minutes but ran without trouble once underway, despite fog persisting at some parts of the circuit.

Catsburg took his S60 - with 20 kilograms less ballast on board than at the previous round in Vila Real - to the fastest time of the weekend so far, achieving a 1m43.207s to dislodge home favourite Esteban Guerrieri.

Campos Racing driver Guerrieri's time was good enough to keep him second for the remainder of the session, ahead of factory Honda drivers Monteiro and Michelisz.

Rob Huff was the leading privateer Citroen driver in the second session as he dragged his Munnich Motorsport C-Elysee to fifth, ahead of Girolami, Bennani and his SLR team-mate Tom Chilton.

Tom Coronel's ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze was repaired in time to be transported to Argentina after his practice crash in Vila Real three weeks earlier and wound up ninth fastest in practice two, with the RC Motorsport Lada Vesta of Yann Ehrlacher completing the top 10.

The third Volvo of Thed Bjork was only 12th fastest and sat out a good chunk of the second session after collecting grass in his radiator during an off, while the third factory Honda Civic of Ryo Michigami also stopped early with an undiagnosed technical fault.

Zsolt Szabo, who is making his WTCC debut this weekend after replacing the TCR-bound Aurelien Panis at Zengo Motorsport, finished the second session 15th fastest.

The Hungarian had failed to set a time in the first practice session and stopped out on track with a fuel issue, causing the first red flag, but completed 17 laps in practice two and edged out team-mate Daniel Nagy at the bottom of the times by 0.256s.

PRACTICE ONE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m44.170s -
2 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m44.598s 0.428s
3 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m44.670s 0.500s
4 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m45.014s 0.844s
5 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m45.123s 0.953s
6 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m45.267s 1.097s
7 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 1m45.414s 1.244s
8 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m45.856s 1.686s
9 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m46.089s 1.919s
10 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 1m46.424s 2.254s
11 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m46.487s 2.317s
12 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m46.612s 2.442s
13 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 1m47.190s 3.020s
14 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 1m47.731s 3.561s
15 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 1m49.323s 5.153s
16 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda - -

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m43.207s -
2 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m43.576s 0.369s
3 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m43.706s 0.499s
4 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m43.900s 0.693s
5 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 1m44.088s 0.881s
6 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m44.180s 0.973s
7 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m44.230s 1.023s
8 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m44.447s 1.240s
9 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 1m44.742s 1.535s
10 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 1m44.793s 1.586s
11 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m45.308s 2.101s
12 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m45.350s 2.143s
13 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 1m45.460s 2.253s
14 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m45.480s 2.273s
15 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda 1m46.358s 3.151s
16 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 1m46.614s 3.407s


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