Castrol Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini topped the first practice session for the World Touring Car Championship at Twin Ring Motegi, leading the Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz and championship leader José María López.
Tarquini’s time of 1m57.146s kept the Italian at the top of the time sheets, while Honda were deprived of a 1-2-3 at their home circuit after a last minute flyer set by López.
López’s time was just over a half a second from Tarquini’s time, but was enough to knock the other works Honda of Tiago Monteiro down to fourth.
Nicky Catsburg was the best placed of the Lada drivers, setting the fifth best time overall in the Vesta WTCC, while the Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën of Mehdi Bennani was sixth quickest, ahead of Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), Rob Huff (Lada) and with Yvan Muller and Ma Qing Hua (Citroën) completing the top ten.
The Chevrolet Cruzes were struggling the most at the Motegi circuit. The best placed was Tom Coronel, the driver with the most experience at the Japanese circuit in 11th overall, 1.9 seconds off the overall pace, with the other five Cruzes filling out positions 13-17 of the 17 car strong entry this weekend.
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes