WTCR Free Practice 2 flash: Vervisch on top as 1.0s splits top 16
Frédéric Vervisch topped the times in Free Practice 2 at WTCR Race of China-Wuhan with just a single second separating the top 16 as the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO field acclimatised to the Wuhan International Street Circuit.
Audi Sport Team Comtoyou driver Vervisch headed Team OSCARO by Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola in his Cupra TCR by just 0.143s around the 2.984-kilometre circuit in central China, with Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team’s Gordon Shedden a promising third. Comtoyou’s Nathanaël Berthon and Aurélien Panis were next making it four Audis in the top five, suggesting the RS 3 LMS drivers will be strong contenders on the Wuhan streets this weekend.
“The grip increased hugely compared to the first session,” said Vervisch. “I was really surprised how much when I put on new tyres. Now I need a free lap in qualifying tomorrow, which is not easy on a small track.
“The Audis look strong and I’m happy about that. It could be a weekend for us, so we need to maximise that.”
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Rob Huff was sixth in his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, ahead of Shedden’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay, and there was encouragement for Team Mulsanne and its team of Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCRs as Kevin Ceccon ended up eighth.
His team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi, who crashed out of the first session after just four minutes, was back on track following extensive repairs by his mechanics but propped up the times.
Denis Dupont made it five Audis in the top 10 in ninth for Comtoyou, with Mehdi Bennani next up in his Golf.
Thed Björk, a double race winner in Ningbo last weekend, was the first of the Hyundai i30 N TCRs in P11 for YMR, ahead of the quickest Honda Civic Type R TCR of ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri. Björk’s team boss Yvan Muller was in P13, ahead of Aurélien Comte in the first of the DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCRs.
Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua was next in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda, with Mato Homola’s PEUGEOT in P18. Double DTM champion Timo Scheider had a spin on his way to P19 in what is his second appearance in WTCR OSCARO.
Tom Coronel, who like Giovanardi suffered a damaging crash in the first session, also returned to the track and was P23 in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda.
Qualifying for Race 1 of WTCR Race of China-Wuhan takes place on Saturday at 10h30 local time.