Termas de Rio Hondo, FP : Michelisz and Catsburg set pace
"I was looking forward to a lot more driving but..."
Norbert Michelisz came out on top of a shortened Free Practice 1 at FIA WTCC Race of Argentina, going 0.428s faster than factory Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro.
The session was 30 minutes late starting for safety reasons while a thick coating of fog cleared. However, when the fog returned with 12 minutes of the shortened 30-minute session remaining, the decision was rightly taken stop the running again due to issues with on-track visibility.
But with most drivers restricted to a handful of laps, a considerable amount of set-up work will need to be undertaken in Free Practice 2, which barring no further delay to the timetable, will begin at 11h00 local time.
“I was looking forward to a lot more driving but the fog was making it very difficult with only 50-60 metres of visibility,” said Michelisz. “It was the right decision to stop the session. It’s winter in Argentina right now and sometimes it’s like this. But it’s no big drama.”
Nicky Catsburg was third fastest for Polestar Cyan Racing followed by Mehdi Bennani and home hero Néstor Girolami. Thed Björk, Rob Huff, Ryo Michighami, Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel completed the top 10.
Szolt Dávid Szabó’s WTCC debut proved difficult when his Honda stopped after less than 10 minutes of running due to a mechanical fault. With his car stranded on track, the session was momentarily halted.
Polestar Cyan Racing’s Nicky Catsburg was fastest in the final Free Practice session ahead of qualifying for FIA WTCC Race of Argentina this afternoon.
Driving a Volvo S60 Polestar, the Dutchman lapped the 4.806-kilometre Circuito Termas de Río Hondo in 1m43.207s to head Argentine hope Esteban Guerrieri by 0.369s with World Touring Car Championship leader Tiago Monteiro third and his fellow Honda driver Norbert Michelisz, who was quickest in Free Practice 1, fourth.
“It was very different to Free Practice 1 when it was cold and difficult to see,” said Catsburg. “Now it was warmer and easier to see, the car performed well and we’re P1, which is where we wanted to be. Hopefully we can do that again in qualifying.”
Rob Huff was fifth with Néstor Girolami sixth, Mehdi Bennani seventh, Tom Chilton eighth, Tom Coronel ninth and Yann Ehrlacher P10 for RC Motorsport.
Elsewhere, WTCC rookie Szolt Dávid Szabó got his first meaningful running after the fuel system issue that restricted him to one lap in FP1 was cured. A spin aside, the 21-year-old from Hungary adapted to his new surroundings well in P15.
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