Vila Real WTCC: Huff's late lap edges Michelisz in practice

Rob Huff improved late on in the second World Touring Car Championship practice session at Vila Real to depose Honda's Norbert Michelisz

Vila Real WTCC: Huff's late lap edges Michelisz in practice

Huff got close to usurping the previously dominant Hondas with his first serious flying lap of the Portuguese street circuit in FP2.

The 1m58.117s he recorded in his Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee was just 0.060 seconds short of Michelisz's 1m58.057s best, although he had been up on the benchmark through the second split before dropping time in the final sector.

But the Briton made no mistake with his final effort with two minutes of the session to run, recording a 1m58.030s to snatch top spot.

Michelisz was baulked by traffic on his final run and missed out on the chance to improve his time, instead settling for second ahead of team-mate and home favourite Tiago Monteiro.

The leading Volvo S60 Polestar of Nicky Catsburg was fourth ahead of team-mate Thed Bjork, while Campos Racing's Esteban Guerrieri (Chevrolet Cruze) and the Sebastien Loeb Racing C-Elysee of Mehdi Bennani were the only other drivers to get within a second of Huff's best.

Michelisz's quickest time in the first session was a marginally slower 1m58.119s, but that was enough to leave him fastest by the best part of six tenths in the first session from the second Civic of Monteiro.

Third- and fourth-placed Bjork and Huff were more than a second off the pace, ahead of Catsburg and Bennani.

Tom Coronel was 14th in FP1 but will take no part in the remainder of the weekend after crashing into a stationary fire truck.

The Dutchman was unable to brake for the Turn 23 right-hander after a fast downhill section towards the end of the lap and went straight on past a crash barrier into the side of the truck.

His front-left wheel had worked itself loose as he approached the braking zone and broke free just before the impact.

Coronel won the opening race at Vila Real last year, but his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze will now be repaired before being packed for ship freight ahead of the next round of the season in Argentina.

WTCC debutant Manuel Fernandes was 15th in both sessions in his RC Motorsport Lada Vesta, finishing the second 5.450s off the pace.

Drivers were also allowed to use the two sessions to get used to the Vila Real joker lap.

The format is being used in the championship for the first time this weekend and at Vila Real comprises a tighter left-right sequence around the Turn 26 roundabout before the finish line, which is around two seconds slower than the conventional corner.

Michelisz had six attempts at the joker in FP1 and seven across the two sessions, while Monteiro completed a total of nine attempts during practice - more than any other driver.

PRACTICE ONE RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Laps
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m58.118s 15
2 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m58.709s 14
3 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m59.135s 15
4 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 1m59.248s 17
5 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m59.705s 15
6 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m59.734s 15
7 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 2m00.257s 14
8 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2m00.830s 17
9 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 2m01.047s 16
10 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2m01.096s 15
11 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 2m01.170s 13
12 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2m01.809s 16
13 Aurelien Panis Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m02.312s 12
14 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2m03.147s 6
15 Manuel Fernandes RC Motorsport Lada 2m03.903s 11
16 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m06.302s 14
17 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 2m12.761s 12

PRACTICE TWO RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Time Laps
1 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 1m58.030s 16
2 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m58.057s 16
3 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m58.600s 17
4 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m58.627s 15
5 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m58.779s 12
6 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 1m58.997s 12
7 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1m59.018s 16
8 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1m59.089s 10
9 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m59.737s 15
10 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2m00.104s 16
11 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 2m00.690s 18
12 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2m00.997s 15
13 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 2m02.451s 14
14 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m03.077s 16
15 Manuel Fernandes RC Motorsport Lada 2m03.480s 17
16 Aurelien Panis Zengo Motorsport Honda 2m04.108s 5


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