WTCC Nordschleife: Michelisz survives puncture scare to top FP1

Honda's Norbert Michelisz topped the World Touring Car Championship's first official practice session on the Nordschleife despite a late near-miss with the barriers

WTCC Nordschleife: Michelisz survives puncture scare to top FP1

The Hungarian went quickest with an 8m43.255s and was set to improve on his last run in the 60-minute session before a puncture nearly sent him into the barriers.

At almost the same time, Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro - more than five seconds off the pace - stopped on circuit with a fuel pump issue while on a better lap.

He managed to bring his car back to the pits.

Michelisz headed Munnich Citroen driver Rob Huff by less than a second, with Sebastien Loeb Racing C-Elysees man Tom Chilton third by 2.3s off the pace.

Volvo's Nicky Catsburg put down the first competitive benchmark of 8m47.034s, a time that would ultimately be good enough for fourth.

An accident involving RC Motorsport Lada driver Yann Ehrlacher caused a 20-minute caution period.

The 20-year-old Frenchman crashed off soon after the Brunnchen corner after an apparent power steering failure with the Vesta WTCC, crashing hard into the barriers and limping away from the damaged car.

When the car was recovered and the yellows were withdrawn, Michelisz soon went fastest. He was almost eclipsed by Huff, who set his best lap despite running wide off circuit soon after making his way past the ETCC SEAT Leon of Andreas Pfister.

Huff, who had topped the morning's test with a time two seconds quicker than Michelisz's practice best, then suffered a tyre problem at the end of the session and slowly returned the pits.

"We're a world Championship, and we're seeing punctures left right and centre and it's not good enough," said Huff, after the Volvos of Catsburg and Thed Bjork also had failures.

"Yokohama have to do something about this."

The final practice session follows at 8.15am local time on Friday.

FIRST PRACTICE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 8m43.255s 2
2 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 0.819s 3
3 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2.337s 4
4 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 3.779s 3
5 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 4.312s 4
6 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 4.456s 4
7 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 5.333s 3
8 Nestor Girolami Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 5.516s 3
9 Esteban Guerrieri Campos Racing Chevrolet 7.794s 3
10 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 9.250s 3
11 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 11.673s 4
12 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 11.836s 4
13 Aurelien Panis Zengo Motorsport Honda 18.249s 4
14 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 22.162s 3
15 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada - 0
16 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo - 4

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