Motegi WTCC: Michelisz tops wet first practice

Honda driver Norbert Michelisz led the way in an unusual late-afternoon first practice session at Motegi, with the weekend’s schedule heavily compressed due to the late arrival of the cars and equipment from China.

Motegi WTCC: Michelisz tops wet first practice

The session went from damp to very wet during the 45 minutes, with Michelisz leading the way through much of the session in the slippery conditions.

On pace with his Honda teammate was Japanese driver Ryo Michigami despite taking to the track late following an alternator issue.

Michigami, who made his WTCC debut at Motegi last year, is the driver most familiar with the circuit in the field, and he took over at the top of the timesheets with just under 10 minutes to go.

As the session drew to a close, Volvo’s Nicky Catsburg went quicker still in his Volvo, before Michelisz jumped back on top with a time of 2m08.363s, three tenths faster than the Dutchman.

Catsburg was unable to improve as he found traffic on his final lap when he caught Campos Racing’s Kris Richard, making his WTCC debut this weekend, and had to settle for second, with Michigami third.

Rob Huff was best of the Citroen and the independents, placing his Munnich Motorsport Citroen in fourth, just over half a second from Michelisz, with Esteban Guerrieri fifth on his debut with Honda.

Yann Ehrlacher was the best-placed of the RC Motorsport Lada drivers in sixth, with championship leader Thed Bjork in ninth, 1.8 seconds off the pace.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

First practice results:

1 hungary Norbert Michelisz  Honda 2'08.363  
2 netherlands Nicky Catsburg  Volvo 2'08.663 0.300
3 japan Ryo Michigami  Honda 2'08.927 0.564
4 united_kingdom Rob Huff  Citroën 2'09.291 0.928
5 argentina Esteban Guerrieri  Chevrolet 2'09.389 1.026
6 france Yann Ehrlacher  LADA 2'09.767 1.404
7 argentina Nestor Girolami  Volvo 2'09.993 1.630
8 netherlands Tom Coronel  Chevrolet 2'10.045 1.682
9 sweden Thed Björk  Volvo 2'10.167 1.804
10 united_kingdom Tom Chilton  Citroën 2'10.584 2.221
11 united_states Kevin Gleason  LADA 2'10.656 2.293
12 france John Filippi  Citroën 2'10.725 2.362
13 morocco Mehdi Bennani  Citroën 2'11.612 3.249
14 switzerland  Kris Richard  Chevrolet 2'12.475 4.112
15 macau Filipe C. De Souza  LADA 2'15.017 6.654
16 hungary Daniel Nagy  Honda 2'15.201 6.838
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