Honda's Gabriele Tarquini was fastest of all in a closely contested Friday practice session ahead of the Paul Ricard WTCC round.
The Italian deposed Citroen's Ma Qing Hua from the top of the timesheets with just minutes remaining, while Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro was third fastest, with Honda showing increased pace over last week in the first test.
After its struggles last week at the Slovakiaring, the latest compensation weight calculations see Honda drop 40kg of ballast for Paul Ricard, which seems to have favoured the Civic early on in the hot conditions in southern France.
Championship leader Jose Maria Lopez was the early leader in the session in his Citroen, before late improvements saw Zengo's Norbert Michelisz, Monteiro and Ma take over the top spot, before Tarquini's time of 1:30.227 put the Italian fastest with under five minutes remaining.
Lopez finished the session fourth after a late improvement, just ahead of the best placed Lada Vesta, driven by Rob Huff.
Norbert Michelisz finished the session as the fastest of the independents' class drivers in eighth, while Hugo Valente was the top Chevrolet RML driver in tenth overall in his Campos Racing Cruze.
Yvan Muller was out of place in his Citroen in 12th overall, while Rickard Rydell was 13th fastest in the Honda Racing Team Sweden Civic on his first outing at this configuration of the circuit.
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes
|2||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen||1'30.339||0.112|
|4||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||1'30.607||0.380|
|15||Jaap van Lagen||Lada||1'31.934||1.707|