Vila Real WTCC: Michelisz heads Muller in Friday test

Honda driver Norbert Michelisz was fastest of all in the first WTCC test session at the Vila Real circuit, finishing just under a tenth of a second ahead of Yvan Muller’s Citroen.

Vila Real WTCC: Michelisz heads Muller in Friday test

Michelisz set the early pace in the session in his Civic WTCC, with teammate Rob Huff just a few tenths of a second behind at the re-profiled Portuguese street circuit.

Points leader Jose María Lopez then produced a time of 1m59.960s on his first flying lap to go fastest by over a second, but the Citroen driver would not do any more flying runs in the 30-minute session.

Muller went faster than Lopez with 10 minutes to go, setting a time of 1m59.860s,  before the Hondas surged forward, with Rob Huff initially going quickest ahead of Michelisz.

However, the Hungarian then produced a time of 1m58.673s to end up fastest of all just after the chequered flag was waved.

Muller made a final improvement to jump up to second-fastest, just under a tenth off the Hungarian, with Huff third just two tenths further behind and Lopez settling for fourth.

Hugo Valente was the fastest of the Lada drivers, with the Russian manufacturer carrying 70kg of compensation weight for the first time in its WTCC history thanks to its pace two weeks ago at Moscow Raceway.

The Frenchman was just ahead of teammate and Moscow main race winner Nicky Catsburg.

Tom Chilton was the fastest of the privateer drivers, putting the Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen seventh, with home hero Tiago Monteiro eighth fastest for Honda.

Thed Bjork was the fastest of the two Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo drivers in ninth, with new team-mate Robert Dahlgren 14th quickest, while Tom Coronel was the best-placed of the Chevrolets in 10th.

A total 17 cars took to the circuit, but an 18th is due on track tomorrow, with Zengo Motorsport installing a new engine into its second Honda Civic for Daniel Nagy, who will make his WTCC debut this weekend.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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