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.
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
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||1'44.057||10|
|6||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen||1'44.674||0.617||13|
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