WTCC Qatar: Norbert Michelisz fastest in practice for title decider

Honda's title hopeful Norbert Michelisz completed a clean sweep of fastest times in the final two World Touring Car Championship practice sessions of the 2017 season in Qatar

WTCC Qatar: Norbert Michelisz fastest in practice for title decider

Michelisz set the fastest lap of the day on a new tyre run towards the end of the second session, his effort of 1m59.739s beating the previous best lap of the Losail circuit recorded by Jose Maria Lopez in the first part of qualifying in 2016.

That left the Hungarian, who is 6.5 points shy of Volvo's Thed Bjork in the title race with 60 on offer in Qatar, the best part of a second clear of his nearest competitor at the time.

Although team-mate Esteban Guerrieri improved on his own new tyre run, Michelisz still ended the session 0.702 seconds clear at the head of a Civic 1-2.

Nicky Catsburg was third in his Volvo S60 ahead of Bjork, who wound up more than a second slower than his chief title rival.

Bjork finished the day's earlier practice session in third, on that occasion falling three tenths shy of Michelisz's time as Rob Huff (Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee) split the pair.

Volvos occupied third to fifth in FP1, with Catsburg marginally slower than his team leader and the returning Yvan Muller backing them up.

Four-time WTCC champion Muller has come out of retirement for the final round of the season to assist Bjork's title push and completed 26 laps across the two 45-minute practice sessions.

The Frenchman ended the second session outside the top 10 in 11th, on the tail of nephew Yann Ehrlacher.

An incident involving Ehrlacher brought out the only red flag of the day before any laps had been completed in FP2, with Zengo Motorsport's David Zsolt Szabo driving into the RC Motorsport Lada Vesta.

Szabo then proceeded to spin and clipped Daniel Nagy in the sister Zengo Motorsport Civic.

FP1 times

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2m01.595s 15
2 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 0.211s 15
3 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 0.320s 14
4 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 0.389s 15
5 Yvan Muller Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 0.771s 10
6 Esteban Guerrieri Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 0.942s 11
7 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 1.434s 14
8 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 2.120s 19
9 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2.166s 4
10 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2.385s 14
11 Kris Richard Campos Racing Chevrolet 2.569s 12
12 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 2.656s 15
13 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 3.010s 18
14 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 3.388s 8
15 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 3.769s 7
16 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda 4.761s 15

FP2 times

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Norbert Michelisz Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 1m59.739s 15
2 Esteban Guerrieri Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 0.702s 13
3 Nicky Catsburg Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 0.950s 15
4 Thed Bjork Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 1.154s 12
5 Rob Huff Munnich Motorsport Citroen 1.492s 16
6 Tom Chilton Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2.536s 14
7 Ryo Michigami Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2.773s 8
8 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 2.875s 15
9 Yann Ehrlacher RC Motorsport Lada 3.119s 10
10 John Filippi Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 3.210s 15
11 Yvan Muller Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo 3.233s 16
12 Kris Richard Campos Racing Chevrolet 3.808s 12
13 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 3.832s 13
14 Kevin Gleason RC Motorsport Lada 3.884s 17
15 Daniel Nagy Zengo Motorsport Honda 4.889s 13
16 Zsolt Szabo Zengo Motorsport Honda - 0


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Author Jack Cozens
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