Robert Huff took Chevrolet to the top of the timesheets in this afternoon’s free test session as the penultimate round of the 2010 World Touring Car Championship season kicked off at Okayama’s TI Aida circuit in Japan.

Robert Huff went fastest in the free test session at Okayama The Briton moved to the top of the timesheets after 20 minutes of the session, and improved his time with a best effort of 1:38.059 around the 3.7-kilometre circuit.

Championship leader and team-mate to Huff, Yvan Muller, finished second-quickest, while Andy Priaulx (a winner here last year) went third-fastest, using the session to try out a six-speed sequential gearbox in his BMW.

The third Chevrolet of Alain Menu split the BMW pairing of Priaulx and Augusto Farfus to go fourth-fastest, while Tiago Monteiro was the quickest of the SEAT drivers in sixth.

Despite a trip through the Turn 1 gravel trap early in the proceedings, Tom Coronel took the sister SR Sport León TDI to seventh-quickest, while Darryl O’Young finished up an impressive eighth-fastest and took the honours of the session’s quickest Independent Trophy driver.

The Scandinavian pairing of Robert Dahlgren (showing impressive pace in his Volvo) and Michel Nykjær rounded out the top ten on the timing screens.

One absentee from the head of the timesheets was defending champion Gabriele Tarquini, who wound up 17th-quickest having lost track time with a puncture. He returned to the pits – cheekily taking a shortcut through the paddock rather than winding his way along the entire circuit length – and rejoined in the closing minutes, but was unable to move further up the order.

The season-record 27-car field sees a total of four Japanese drivers on display in front of their home crowd. Yukinori Taniguchi finished comfortably the quickest of the quartet, winding up 15th-fastest overall.


2010 WTCC Okayama Free Test Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Robert Huff RML Chevrolet Cruze LT 1:38.059 11
2. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 0.639 10
3. Andy Priaulx RBM Team BMW 320si + 0.720 12
4. Alain Menu RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 0.735 12
5. Augusto Farfus RBM Team BMW 320si + 0.969 14
6. Tiago Monteiro POR SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 1.322 11
7. Tom Coronel NED SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 1.394 12
8. Darryl O’Young (I) HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 1.444 15
9. Robert Dahlgren SWE Olsbergs Green Racing Volvo C30 + 1.451 13
10. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León TDI + 1.569 10
11. Colin Turkington AVIVA-COFCO WSR BMW 320si + 1.602 16
12. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT León TDI + 1.605 14
13. Kristian Poulsen (I) DEN Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si + 1.622 16
14. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI + 1.625 12
15. Yukinori Taniguchi (I) JPN_thumb[2] Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 1.845 13
16. Sergio Hernández (I) Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 2.155 12
17. Gabriele Tarquini SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 2.420 11
18. Stefano D’Aste (I) Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 2.537 14
19. Michaël Rossi FRA SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 2.582 15
20. Mehdi Bennani (I) MOR Wiechers Sport BMW 320si + 2.854 13
21. Franz Engstler (I) Team Engstler BMW 320si + 2.931 15
22. Masataka Yanagida (I) JPN_thumb[2] Wiechers Sport BMW 320si + 3.530 15
23. Henry Ho (I) MAC Ho Chun Kei BMW 320si + 4.021 13
24. Nobuteru Taniguchi (I) JPN_thumb[2] Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 4.276 5
25. Andrei Romanov (I) RUS_thumb[2] Team Engstler BMW 320si + 4.500 15
26. Kevin Chen (I) TWN Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 5.692 15
27. Yoshihiro Ito (I) JPN_thumb[2] Team Engstler BMW 320si + 5.739 10

[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]

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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.