Gabriele Tarquini leads Honda 1-2 in first Slovakiaring practice

Gabriele Tarquini shattered Norbert Michelisz’s lap record from last year in only the first practice session at the Slovakaring, going seven tenths of a second quicker, with team-mate Tiago Monteiro close behind in second place.

Honda driver Tiago Monteiro showed that the record wasn’t going to last long by going just two-thousandths slower on his first lap. Next, RML Chevrolet’s Yvan Muller was able to improve to grab P1, before Tarquini soon followed with a time of 2:12.215 to go fastest of all and hold that spot for the remainder of the 30 minute session.

A late improvement from Monteiro brought him up to P2, just under four-tenths of a second slower than his Italian team-mate, whilst Tom Coronel emerged third fastest in ROAL Motorsport’s BMW 320 TC, his and BMW’s most competitive showing so far this season.

The BMWs are all running new carbon fibre doors this weekend which has helped them get closer to the minimum weight assigned by the latest compensation weight calculations.

Yvan Muller was the fastest of the Chevrolet drivers in fourth, just ahead of his RML team-mate Tom Chilton.

Rob Huff was the fastest of the SEAT drivers in sixth overall in the Münnich Motorsport SEAT León, whilst Alex MacDowall was the fastest of the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy drivers in seventh.

Lada appeared to be struggling for pace at the Slovakian circuit, with James Thompson recording the 18th fastest time, 2.8 seconds down on Tarquini’s best and team-mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy 22nd, just over four seconds off the pace.

Problems for René Münnich saw the SEAT driver out of the session early on, whilst there were a number of offs, which included Tom Coronel running into the gravel at the final turn, brief excursions for Stefano D’Aste’s BMW and Fernando Monje’s SEAT and two spins for Wiechers-Sport BMW driver Fredy Barth, the last of which left him stranded in the gravel at Turn 3.

There was also an exhaust fire for Zengo Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz late in the session which saw the Honda driver unable to improve and finished 13th overall.

The next practice session takes place at 12:00 CET.