The Honda driver beats López by less than two tenths
Only the racing lines were dry at the beginning of the first practice, however this was enough for having a drastic improvement of lap times compared to the early morning test session.
Tom Coronel clipped a stack of tyres and broke a front wheel-arch of his Chevrolet; this forced him to the pits for a quick repair.
Citroën drivers filled the top spots of the time sheet in the first half of the session, with José María López (1:07.702) and Yvan Muller (1:07.851) being the first to break the 1:08. wall.Tiago Monteiro showed once again that he and his Honda Civic are at ease on this track and posted a new provisional fastest lap of 1:07.676.
This did not last for long as Sébastien Loeb improved further to 1:07.269 and then López was able to go under the 1:07. mark with an impressive 1:06.791.
This seemed to settle the matter, until Monteiro jumped on top once again with a lap of 1:06.621, demoting the Argentine to second. Local hero Ma Qing Hua posted the third fastest lap (1:06.937) immediately before the session was red-flagged for good with 40 seconds left after López’s car got stranded onto the gravel trap at T8.
James Thompson was the fastest of the LADA drivers in eighth (1:07.410), while the best Chevrolet was Gianni Morbidelli’s in 11th (1:07.867). Franz Engstler set the pace in TC2T class (1:09.722).