Macau, FP2: More Macau WTCC speed from Michelisz
"The grip was better than yesterday"
16-19 November 2017, FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 17 and 18 of 20
Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team’s Norbert Michelisz remained on top in Free Practice 2 at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau as times fell dramatically ahead of qualifying on the Guia street circuit.
Norbert Michelisz was fastest early on in the session and returned to the top of the times with five minutes remaining, dragging his Honda Civic WTCC to a best time of 2m25.156s – an improvement of almost 2.7s on his session-best time in Thursday’s Free Practice 1 and under Rob Huff’s qualifying lap record.
“The grip was better than yesterday, we we are still competitive and I’m confident for qualifying,” said Michelisz, currently second in the world championship standings. “I started to have the Macau feeling back when you start to push you start to be more confident because you have the grip and the speed. If the track continues to improves like it is it will be a really interesting and exciting qualifying session.”
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani led the chasing pack in second practice and ended up three tenths slower than Michelisz in his Citroën C-Elysée, while eight-time Suncity Group Macau Guia Race winner Huff separated the Moroccan from team-mate Tom Chilton in the order.
Nicky Catsburg headed Polestar Cyan Racing team-mate and championship leader Thed Björk to claim fifth with Björk ending up as the fastest Macau rookie. The returning Ma Qing Hua was eighth in his SLR Citroën C-Elysée, splitting Michelisz’s team-mates Esteban Guerrieri and Ryo Michigami, but electing to save his new tyres for qualifying.
John Filippi completed the top 10 ahead of Tom Coronel, the RC Motorsport entries of Yann Ehrlacher and Kevin Gleason and Zsolt Dávid Szabó, who turned 22 on Thursday.
Szabó’s Zengő Motorsport team-mate Dániel Nagy experienced another electrical issue at the start of the session and stopped while exiting the pitlane, but got going again and made it back to the pits under a red flag. He returned to the track later on and finished up P15, ahead of the third RC Motorpsort car of local racer Mak Ka Lok and Hong Kong driver Po Wah Wong from Campos Racing. Fellow WTCC newcomer Kin Pong Clerebold Chan has unfortunately been forced to withdraw from the event due to illness.
Néstor Girolami did not set a time in the third factory Volvo Polestar car after stopping out on track at Fishermen’s Bend, and will have his engine changed before qualifying this afternoon, which will hand the Argentine a grid penalty for the Opening Race on Saturday. Qualifying is up next, starting at 1325 local time.
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