World Touring Car Championship
Rob Huff posted the fastest lap in today’s 30-minute test session at Marrakech; however it was Tom Chilton who created a surprise, emerging as second quickest in his Team Aon Ford Focus.
All drivers had a very cautious approach on their first outing on the North African street circuit, and this was proved by the fact that no incidents were reported during the session but Isaac Tutumlu’s spin at Turn 7 on his first lap out.
Lap time improvements were steady and consistent from Mehdi Bennani’s 1:51.752 in the early stages to Huff’s 1:46.285. The Briton and his Chevrolet Cruze left the rest of the field eight tenths behind.
For the first time a Ford Focus car fought for top places, as Chilton was timed at 1:47.114 that was the provisional fastest lap for three minutes, until Huff crossed the line while the chequered flag was waved.
Alain Menu (1:47.202) and Gabriele Tarquini (1:47.309) ranked third and fourth respectively, with Alex MacDowall (1:47.655) in fifth and best of the Yokohama Trophy.
Reigning champion and current point leader Yvan Muller posted the seventh best time (1:48.016) followed by the fastest BMW, Franz Engstler.s (1:48.108). Local hero Bennani was classified 14th (1:49.324).
The drivers will hit the track again tomorrow morning for two 30-minute practice sessions (9.30 and 12.15), while qualifying will start at 16.15.
Tom Chilton Happy To Be Second Fastest
I have always liked street circuits and I love driving touring cars in narrow places like Macau.
Tom Chilton was delighted after being second fastest in today’s test session at Marrakech at the wheel of his Ford Focus car.
“It was a great start to the weekend! I have always liked street circuits and I love driving touring cars in narrow places like Macau. You get a great feeling. Today I was following Yvan (Muller) and I saw him locking his brakes and brushing the wall. It is exciting! At every corner you say yourself: this time I’m gonna hit the wall! You can feel your leg shaking while pushing on the brake pedal. And when you make a mistake is not like on the other tracks, when you just put your tryes on the grass. Here you leave your mirror against the wall and then… the rest of your car.”
“We are very happy with the progress of our car, and I think this is a circuit that suits the Focus that is very good on the kerbs. And here there are kerbs everywhere. What may be a too soft set up on a permanent racetrack seems to work very well here.”
Weber And Monje To Miss Marrakech
Gábor Wéber and Fernando Monje will not race at Marrakech. The former decided to skip Morocco because of a combination between the engine failure he had at Valencia and a fracture to the scaphoid of his left hand that occurred last winter during a football match and has not completely knit. Wéber is due to rejoin at the next event in Slovakia.
As for Monje, after his WTCC debut at Valencia he will be focusing on the FIA European Touring Car Cup of which he won the two opening rounds at Monza in March. He plans to rejoin the WTCC for the Portuguese event and then for the overseas meetings in Brazil, USA and the Far East.