Lopez quickest in Marrakech WTCC test

Citroen driver Jose Maria Lopez pipped teammate Yvan Muller in Friday's test session for the World Touring Car Championship round in Marrakech.

The Citroens all swapped the top spot on the timesheets during the 30-minute practice session, the only track activity today at the Moroccan circuit.

First Sebastien Loeb Racing's Mehdi Bennani shined in front of his home crowd to grab P1, before Lopez put the factory Citroen C-Elysee ahead on his second flying run.

The times kept falling as the dust began to clear, with the WTCC cars only the second series to hit the track so far this weekend.

With just under ten minutes to go, it was four-time champion Muller who put his Citroen on top, with Mehdi Bennani impressing again with a time just under five-hundredths of a second slower.

A yellow flag at Turn 4 spoiled a lot of drivers' runs in the final minutes, but it was cleared up just in time for reigning champion Lopez to put in one final run and be the only driver to set a time in the 1:44s with a time of 1:44.834.

A quick lap from Frenchman Hugo Valente in the Chevrolet RML Cruze put the 22-year-old fourth and best of the rest behind the Citroens.

The Campos Racing driver is competing with a new development engine this weekend, but as a result will incur a ten-place grid penalty.

Ma Qing Hua was fifth fastest in the relatively event-less session, with Ma having a quiet spin early on but suffering no damage in his Citroen.

Tiago Monteiro was the fastest Honda driver in sixth, just over a second off of Lopez's ultimate pace, with the Citroen of Loeb, the ROAL Chevrolet of Tom Coronel, and the two Hondas of Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz completing the top ten.

The best placed of the Lada drivers was Rob Huff, who finished the session 12th, while all 18 drivers entered for the weekend taking part in the session, with only the NIKA Racing Honda of Rickard Rydell absent after the Swede withdrew from the race yesterday due to a virus.

Pos   Driver   Car   Time   Gap   Laps 
Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1'44.834   11
Yvan Muller Citroen 1'45.415 0.581 12
Mehdi Bennani Citroen 1'45.461 0.627 13
Hugo Valente Chevrolet 1'45.842 1.008 11
Ma Qing Hua Citroen 1'45.867 1.033 12
Tiago Monteiro Honda 1'45.895 1.061 12
Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1'46.279 1.445 11
Tom Coronel Chevrolet 1'46.471 1.637 12
G.Tarquini Honda 1'46.485 1.651 11
10  N.Michelisz Honda 1'46.916 2.082 11
11  Tom Chilton Chevrolet 1'46.966 2.132 9
12  Rob Huff Lada 1'47.055 2.221 11
13  Dusan Borkovic Honda 1'47.123 2.289 13
14  Stefano D'Aste Chevrolet 1'47.346 2.512 13
15  M.Kozlovskiy Lada 1'49.173 4.339 7
16  John Filippi Chevrolet 1'49.745 4.911 13
17  James Thompson Lada 1'49.848 5.014 8
18  G.Demoustier Chevrolet 1'50.607 5.773 6

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Marrakech
Track Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
Drivers Tom Coronel , Sébastien Loeb , Tiago Monteiro , Yvan Muller , Tom Chilton , James Thompson , Rob Huff , Jose Maria Lopez , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Stefano D'Aste , Mehdi Bennani , Ma Qing Hua , Norbert Michelisz , Hugo Valente , Dusan Borkovic , John Filippi
Teams Citroën World Touring Car team
Article type Practice report