Championship leader Yvan Muller lead a Chevrolet top three in the first practice session on Saturday, with Rob Huff and Alain Menu behind. The SEAT of Gabriele Tarquini was fourth fastest, the closest non-Chevrolet.
In a cool but clear morning at the circuit, Alex MacDowall was the one who led the early running in his independent Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet Cruze, whilst the works drivers focussed on set-up laps at the beginning of the session.
Gabriele Tarquini was the first to outpace the 21-year-old rookie, but soon after it was Yvan Muller who put together a string of fastest laps to hold position at the top of the time sheets, where he remained for the last two-thirds of the session.
Briefly, Chevrolets occupied the top five spots, with the two Bamboo Chevrolets of Michel Nykjaer and Alex MacDowall lining up behind the three works Chevrolets, but it was Gabriele Tarquini who spoiled the symmetry again, setting the fourth fastest time with just over ten minutes to go in his Lukoil Racing SEAT León WTCC, just over six-tenths of a second down on Yvan Muller’s final time.
Yvan Muller made a slight detour down one of the escape roads, braking too late for the corner late in the session, whilst in the last ten minutes of the session ROAL Motorsport driver Tom Coronel slid wide out of the final corner and span his BMW one and a half times across the track, returning to the pits soon afterwards and sitting out the rest of the session.
Michel Nykjaer was the fastest of the independents’ trophy drivers after setting the fifth fastest time, with team-mate Alex MacDowall in sixth the last driver within a second of Muller.
Norbert Michelisz was the fastest of the BMW drivers in seventh, whilst James Nash was the quickest of the two Ford drivers in 17th place, 2.3 seconds behind Muller.
Franz Engstler was the only driver to miss the session, with his Engstler Motorsport team working on a problem with the engine throughout the session.
The final practice session of the day starts at 11:15 BRT (16:15 CET).