Ningbo, FP1: Girolami’s Volvo Polestar on top
Soaking weather conditions in China!
Polestar Cyan Racing’s Néstor Girolami set the pace as the FIA World Touring Car Championship field sampled the new Ningbo International Speedpark circuit for the first time at FIA WTCC Race of China this morning.
Soaking weather conditions gave the drivers plenty to think about as they learnt the circuit, although to their credit the 45-minute session was remarkably clear of incidents.
Girolami’s Volvo S60 Polestar hit the top of the timing screens with a little under a third of the session to go, but his fastest lap was his last as the chequered flag fell. The Argentine’s time of 2m00.344s left him 0.4s quicker than team-mate Thed Björk to give the Polestar squad an early one-two in China, the team’s ‘home’ event.
Britain’s Rob Huff, who had set the early pace in the session, ended up third fastest in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. He edged out the third Volvo of Nicky Catsburg in fourth, while WTCC veteran Gabriele Tarquini enjoyed a competitive return to the series by going fifth in his Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Civic. The Italian is stepping in for championship leader Tiago Monteiro, who misses this race following a testing crash in Barcelona.
Yann Ehrlacher in his RC Motorsport entry was sixth fastest ahead of Norbert Michelisz’s Honda Civic and Esteban Guerrieri in his Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.
The other new entry for this round, Filipe de Souza propped up the times in P15 as neither Zsolt Dávid Szabó nor Zengő Motorsport team-mate Dániel Nagy took to the track after their privateer Civic WTCCs developed engine issues.
The rainfall had started about an hour and a half before the session – and is expected to be a feature throughout the WTCC Race of China weekend. Free Practice 2 takes place at 12h45 local time.
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