Yvan Muller’s RML Chevrolet Cruze set the fastest lap in today’s test at Suzuka. It was a very close session, with 14 drivers covered by only five tenths and all five brands – Chevrolet, Honda, LADA, SEAT and BMW – represented in the top-nine places.Tiago Monteiro’s Honda Civic set the pace for most of the time and only in the final moments was the Portuguese’s lap time of 54.187 bettered by Muller (54.081) and Pepe Oriola (54.103).
James Thompson placed his LADA Granta in fourth (54.220) ahead of Rob Huff’s SEAT León (54.261). Gabriele Tarquini, James Nash (the fastest in the Yokohama Trophy) and Tom Chilton rounded out the top-eight, while Mehdi Bennani emerged as the best of the BMW men in ninth (54.346), only two-tenths off Muller’s lap.
Hiroki Yoshimoto was the best of the Asian Trophy competitors, ranking in 14th position.
Most of the drivers had moments during the test: Muller, Monteiro, Tom Coronel, Oriola, Alex MacDowall, Tarquini, Bennani, Yoshimoto, Marc Basseng, Norbert Michelisz, Darryl O’Young and Charles Ng all ran wide but managed to rejoin.
However, the session was red flagged three times for incident at Turn 8. Once after only five minutes, when Filipe de Souza span off, a second time with 17 minutes left on the clock, when Mikhail Kozlovsky beached his LADA car onto the gravel trap and finally eight minutes to the end because of Michelisz’s spin.
Saturday will see the WTCC field take to the track for two thirty-minute Free Practice sessions, before the two-stage Qualifying begins at 15.30 local time (8.30 CET).