Qatar WTCC: Lopez starts final weekend on top in FP1
Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez was fastest in first practice of his final weekend in the WTCC, leading the way by the best part of a second ahead of Lada’s Hugo Valente.
It was Volvo’s Robert Dahlgren who set the early benchmark, topping the time sheets with a time of 2m03.539s, going fastest ahead of teammate Thed Bjork by just over a tenth of a second.
Lopez was the closest threat to the Volvo pair in third after one lap in his factory Citroen C-Elysee, before the privateer Citroen of Mehdi Bennani took his place on his second run, with Valente setting the fourth fastest time in his Lada.
The session was then red-flagged with less than 10 minutes to run after Daniel Nagy, in the Zengo Honda Civic, slid wide at the exit of Turn 7 and buried his car in the gravel trap.
The session was held under the red flag for 15 minutes to clear the track. When the session resumed, Valente quickly jumped to the top of the table with a time of 2m02.919s.
He was closely followed by the Volvo of Bjork, just over a tenth of a second behind, with both drivers’ cars not carrying any compensation weight this weekend.
Valente’s time kept him on top for less than a minute, before triple champion Lopez went fastest of all with a time over seven tenths of a second faster.
Lopez thus ended the session fastest ahead of Valente and Bjork, though Valente was able to find another tenth in the dying moments of practice.
Dahlgren was fourth fastest, while Rob Huff was the quickest of the Honda drivers in fifth, just over a second from Lopez’s time.
Lada drivers Nicky Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini, Citroen’s Yvan Muller, the Honda of Tiago Monteiro and the privateer Citroen of Bennani completed the top 10.
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||8||2'02.182|
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes
Tarquini reveals he had re-signed with Lada for 2017
Muller reveals he turned down offers for WTCC 2017