Paul Ricard WTCC: Monteiro tops damp first practice

Honda’s Tiago Monteiro jumped to the top of the time sheets just after the chequered flag was raised in the Saturday morning practice session at Circuit Paul Ricard.

For the majority of the session, the top spot was disputed by all three of the factory Honda drivers, with Monteiro, Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz all having their turn in front.

Along with the Honda's, Fredrik Ekblom’s Volvo S60 and Gabriele Tarquini in the Lada Vesta also briefly headed the timesheet.

The times slowly improved during the 30 minutes, starting in the 1m45s, it gradually came down into the 1m42s.

Tarquini was the first to break into the 1m42 barrier with five minutes to go, before Jose Maria Lopez produced a time two-tenths quicker just before the chequered flag in his Citroen C-Elysee, and the reigning champion looked set to lead his second session of the weekend.

Honda’s Monteiro however had one more run to go, and the Portuguese driver set the best overall first sector in his upgraded Honda Civic, and went on to finish just over a tenth of a second faster than Lopez.

Gregoire Demoustier also set a late improvement to go third fastest in the Sebastien Loeb Racing-run Citroen, and ended up as the best placed independent driver, with Tarquini the fastest Lada in fifth and Ekblom the top Volvo in tenth.

17 cars took part in the session, with Ferenc Ficza completing four laps with the Zengo Honda Civic, running with a spare engine on loan from the factory team for today only.

Tom Coronel set just an out and in-lap in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze and didn’t set a representative time.

FP1 Results:

 Pos. Driver  Car  Time  Gap 
 Tiago Monteiro Honda 1'42.565  
 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1'42.698 0.133
 Gregoire Demoustier Citroen 1'42.699 0.134
 Norbert Michelisz Honda 1'42.799 0.234
 Gabriele Tarquini Lada 1'42.824 0.259
 Rob Huff Honda 1'42.904 0.339
 Tom Chilton Citroen 1'43.040 0.475
 Nicky Catsburg Lada 1'43.213 0.648
 Yvan Muller Citroen 1'43.321 0.756
10   Fredrik Ekblom Volvo 1'43.595 1.03
11   Hugo Valente Lada 1'43.644 1.079
12   John Filippi Chevrolet 1'44.033 1.468
13   Thed Björk Volvo 1'44.217 1.652
14   Mehdi Bennani Citroen 1'44.295 1.73
15   Ferenc Ficza Honda 2'20.721 38.156
16   Rene Munnich Chevrolet 2'30.946 48.381
17   Tom Coronel Chevrolet   -
​Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes ​
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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Paul Ricard
Track Circuit Paul Ricard
Drivers Tiago Monteiro , Rob Huff , Jose Maria Lopez , Gabriele Tarquini , Grégoire Demoustier
Teams Citroën World Touring Car team , Honda Racing Team JAS
Article type Practice report