The World Touring Car Championship finale got underway today with the 29-car field – reduced by one with the withdrawal of Stefano D’Aste from the entry list – getting to grips with Macau’s notoriously difficult Guia street circuit.

Robert Huff lapped fastest in the free practice session And it was Chevrolet’s Rob Huff who got his weekend off to the best possible start, as he posted the quickest time in the day’s free test session with a time of 2:33.120. The Briton is hopeful of being able to secure second overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings with a good result this weekend, in the wake of the FIA Court of Appeal awarding the title to his team-mate Yvan Muller.

The session was barely minutes old when the red flags were unfurled after Kin Man Chan binned his Honda Civic Type-R into the barriers at Hospital Bend, followed almost immediately by the Engstler BMW of Andrei Romanov. Masaki Kano was another to hit the wall with 10 minutes to go, clipping the Armco exiting the ‘R’ Bend and spinning his BMW across the track.

Kano slapped the wall and had a spin with ten minutes to goAll three RML Chevrolets finished in the top-five on the timing sheets, with Huff’s team-mate Alain Menu going second-quickest, and Muller winding up fifth overall.

Andy Priaulx – with his BMW back using its conventional gearbox and running the maximum compensation weight – went third-quickest in the session, and the Guernseyman will be battling with Huff and SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini for second-placed honours in the championship.

Tom Coronel was the fastest SEAT driver with fourth on the timesheets, with Tiago Monteiro sixth-fastest in the sister León TDI. The second RBM BMW of Augusto Farfus was seventh-fastest, with Tarquini eighth quickest in the session.

The RMB BMWs were back on maximum weight after their Okayama disqualificationNorbert Michelisz was the fastest of the rookie drivers in ninth, while SEAT’s guest driver André Couto rounded out the top ten in his first WTCC outing of the season.

The timing sheets then saw a brace of Independent Trophy runners vying for top spot, with Franz Engstler winding up eleventh overall, closely pursued by Darryl O’Young and Sergio Hernández.


2010 WTCC Macau Free Test Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Robert Huff RML Chevrolet Cruze LT 2:33.120 7
2. Alain Menu RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 0.354 6
3. Andy Priaulx RBM Team BMW 320si + 0.886 9
4. Tom Coronel NED SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 0.996 7
5. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze LT + 1.106 7
6. Tiago Monteiro POR SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 1.826 7
7. Augusto Farfus RBM Team BMW 320si + 1.926 9
8. Gabriele Tarquini SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 1.962 8
9. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengö-Dension SEAT León TDI + 2.223 8
10. André Couto MAC SR Sport SEAT León TDI + 2.770 8
11. Franz Engstler (I) Team Engstler BMW 320si + 3.572 8
12. Darryl O’Young (I) HKG Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 3.590 8
13. Sergio Hernández (I) Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 3.693 7
14. Colin Turkington AVIVA-COFCO WSR BMW 320si + 3.759 8
15. Kristian Poulsen (I) DEN Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si + 4.276 9
16. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT León TDI + 5.761 6
17. Michel Nykjær DEN SUNRED SEAT León TDI + 6.085 8
18. Nobuteru Taniguchi (I) JPN_thumb[2] Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 6.672 8
19. César Campaniço (I) POR Novadriver Total BMW 320si + 7.145 9
20. Kevin Chen (I) TWN Scuderia Proteam BMW 320si + 7.504 7
21. Mehdi Bennani (I) MOR Wiechers Sport BMW 320si + 8.599 5
22. Yukinori Taniguchi (I) JPN_thumb[2] Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti + 9.506 9
23. Henry Ho (I) MAC Ho Chun Kei BMW 320si + 10.129 4
24. Joseph Merszei (I) MAC Team Engstler BMW 320si + 10.459 7
25. Philip Ma (I) HKG Jacob & Co Honda Accord Euro + 17.664 7
26. Masaki Kano (I) JPN_thumb[2] Team Engstler BMW 320si + 20.698 2
27. Io Keong Kuok (I) MAC RPM Racing Honda Accord Euro + 35.566 3
28. Kin Man Chan (I) MAC Andy Racing Honda Civic no time  
29. Andrei Romanov (I) RUS_thumb[2] Team Engstler BMW 320si no time  

[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.