Lopez quickest in first Marrakech practice

World Touring Car Championship points leader Jose Maria Lopez led first practice at the Marrakech street circuit, leading his Citroen teammate Sebastien Loeb in the 30-minute session which saw six different drivers on the top of the timesheet.

Lopez quickest in first Marrakech practice
Jose Maria Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Citroën Total WTCC
Mehdi Bennani, Citroën C-Elysée, Sébastien Loeb Racing
Jose Maria Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Citroën Total WTCC
Jose Maria Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Citroën Total WTCC
Gabriele Tarquini, Honda Civic WTCC, Castrol Honda WTCC Team
Dusan Borkovic, Honda Civic, Proteam Racing
Norbert Michelisz, Honda Civic WTCC, Zengo‚ Motorsport
Gabriele Tarquini, Honda Civic WTCC, Castrol Honda WTCC Team
Tiago Monteiro, Honda Civic WTCC, Castrol Honda WTCC Team
Sébastien Loeb, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Citroën Total WTCC
Mehdi Bennani, Citroën C-Elysée, Sébastien Loeb Racing

The session was delayed by ten minutes due to technical problems with the track-side timing and video feeds, so eventually got underway at 8:25 local time in cooler conditions than yesterday's test session.

Lopez set the first benchmark in his Citroen C-Elysee WTCC, before ROAL Motorsport's Tom Chilton took over in the upgraded Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.

Loeb then put his Citroen on top, before he was briefly deposed by Lopez, until the Argentinian's laptime was deleted by the officials after he was judged to have cut the track at Turn 13.

The two Ladas of James Thompson and Rob Huff, as well as Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini were also all given final warnings for exceeding the track limits later in the session.

Tarquini briefly held the top spot in his Honda Civic WTCC, before Huff found some time in the Lada Vesta to go P1 just after ten minutes of the session were complete.

The Citroen of Yvan Muller moved ahead of Huff and Tarquini just before the halfway point of the session, and that was the last time P1 did not belong to a Citroen, with Lopez, Loeb and the independently run car of Mehdi Bennani all posting improvements to end the session in the top four positions, with Lopez posting the session's best time of 1:44.057 just over ten minutes from the chequered flag.

Tarquini therefore ended the session as the closest threat to the French marque, with fifth in his Honda, just over half a second off the pace, and preventing Citroen from locking out the top five spots with its fifth driver Ma Qing Hua in sixth position.

Tom Chilton was the fastest of the Chevrolet drivers in seventh, with the two Hondas of Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz eighth and ninth with Lada's Rob Huff completing the top ten.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

Pos   Driver   Car   Time   Gap   Laps 
Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 1'44.057   10
Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1'44.225 0.168 12
Mehdi Bennani Citroen 1'44.318 0.261 13
Yvan Muller Citroen 1'44.420 0.363 13
G.Tarquini Honda 1'44.585 0.528 12
Ma Qing Hua Citroen 1'44.674 0.617 13
Tom Chilton Chevrolet 1'44.835 0.778 11
Tiago Monteiro Honda 1'44.889 0.832 12
N.Michelisz Honda 1'44.898 0.841 12
10  Rob Huff Lada 1'44.930 0.873 13
11  Tom Coronel Chevrolet 1'45.235 1.178 9
12  Dusan Borkovic Honda 1'45.269 1.212 13
13  Hugo Valente Chevrolet 1'45.304 1.247 12
14  Stefano D'Aste Chevrolet 1'45.958 1.901 14
15  James Thompson Lada 1'46.612 2.555 11
16  G.Demoustier Chevrolet 1'46.830 2.773 14
17  M.Kozlovskiy Lada 1'46.956 2.899 14
18  John Filippi Chevrolet 1'47.531 3.474 13
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