Colin Turkington was fastest of all in the first free practice session on Saturday morning at the Shanghai International Circuit for Team Aviva-Cofco, a full four-tenths of a second clear of Rob Huff’s works Chevrolet Cruze.
Turkington set his banker lap early on in the session, a time of 1:56.019 which nobody else was able to get near in the remainder of the 30 minute session.
“The last front-wheel drive car I drove was the MG back in ’06, I was a bit nervous but the Cruze is a really nice car,” said Turkington.
“I’ve only done 14 laps, so I think we’re only scratching the surface and come qualifying I reckon we’ve still got some time to find.”
Given his pace in testing and FP1, Turkington was asked by Eurosport what will happen this weekend if he ends up involved in the fight between the three works Chevrolets, to which he responded:
“It’s like the last time, it’s good to be fast but you have to respect the guys that have been here all year, so I don’t want to get involved in anyone else’s championship.”
Rob Huff ended up second fastest for the second session running, and the fastest of the works Chevrolets, with Gabriele Tarquini third quickest in the Lukoil Racing Team SEAT León WTCC.
Alain Menu and Yvan Muller were fourth and fifth fastest in their Chevrolets, with Tom Coronel the quickest of the BMWs in sixth.
The fastest independent driver was Fernando Monje, who got a great tow off of Gabriele Tarquini’s SEAT to go seventh fastest in the SUNRED Engineering-run SEAT León WTCC.
The session went less well for two of his team-mates. Pepe Oriola wound up eighth fastest, but brought out the red flag with just two minutes to go, stopping his SEAT on the start-finish straight, whilst Championship returnee Fredy Barth was unable to take part in the session at all.
Eric Kwong was again the fastest of the five guest cars which are running with normally aspirated two-litre engines. Kwong was 4.4 seconds down on Turkington’s time in his Cruze LT in 23rd place.
The next session is Free Practice 2 and gets underway at 11:20 CST.