Marrakech FP1 Reigning World Touring Car Champion Gabriele Tarquini posted the quickest time in the opening free practice session for this weekend’s round at Marrakech, in Morocco.

The Italian appeared comfortably quickest after hitting the top of the timesheets midway through the half-hour session, and repeatedly improved on his times to end up over 0.6s clear of Andy Priaulx’s RBM BMW in second place.

By dint of some aggressive kerb-hopping through the chicanes, Tiago Monteiro managed to haul his SEAT León to third-quickest overall, followed by Augusto Farfus and the repaired Chevrolet Cruze of Alain Menu.

Yesterday’s test session pacesetter Norbert Michelisz landed up eighth-fastest, while Franz Engstler led the Independents’ charge and was an impressive seventh-quickest overall.

Worryingly, 2008 World Champion Yvan Muller was the slowest of the manufacturer runners in thirteenth place overall.

The session was relatively incident-free, although Mehdi Bennani made an embarrassing exit from the session in front of his home crowd, after hitting the Turn 4 barriers on his first flying lap.

Darryl O’Young suffered a similar fate, slapping the barriers and only rejoining late in the session.

2010 WTCC Round 2 Marrakech 1st Practice Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Gabriele Tarquini SR Sport SEAT 1:46.975 13
2. Andy Priaulx RBM Team BMW 320si + 0.614 12
3. Tiago Monteiro SR Sport SEAT + 0.688 13
4. Augusto Farfus RBM Team BMW 320si + 0.911 13
5. Alain Menu RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 0.919 10
6. Tom Coronel SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 1.016 13
7. Franz Engstler (I) Team Engstler BMW 320si + 1.059 12
8. Norbert Michelisz Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI + 1.080 7
9. Jordi Gené SR Sport SEAT + 1.095 11
10. Robert Huff RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 1.098 10
11. Michel Nykjær SUNRED SEAT + 1.346 10
12. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT + 1.983 11
13. Yvan Muller RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 2.038 8
14. Stefano D’Aste (I) Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 2.604 11
15. Sergio Hernández (I) Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 3.398 7
16. Harry Vaulkhard (I) Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 3.829 11
17. Andrei Romanov (I) Team Engstler BMW 320si + 5.529 14
18. Ismaïl Sbaï (I) Morocco Chevrolet Lacetti + 6.140 11
19. Darryl O’Young (I) Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 21.715 3
20. Mehdi Bennani (I) Wiechers Sport BMW 320si no time 1
NP. Youssaf El Marnissi (I) Morocco Chevrolet Lacetti    
NP. Larbi Tadlaoui (I) Morocco Chevrolet Lacetti    

[Images via the FIA WTCC official website]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.