Sébastien Loeb leads red flagged FP1 in Marrakech

Citroën’s Sébastien Loeb led the field in the first free practice session on Saturday ahead of team-mate Yvan Muller and the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet of Tom Coronel, who crashed out while on a flying lap and brought an end to the session two minutes early.

Sébastien Loeb set the first benchmark in the session ahead of his two Citroën team-mates Yvan Muller and José María López, while the Chevrolets principally squabbled over the spots behind them early on, with strong showings from both Campos Racing’s drivers Hugo Valente and Dusan Borkovic, as well as ROAL’s Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel.

Coronel was first to break the Citroën trio moving up into third, with Valente, Chilton, Borkovic and Proteam Honda’s Mehdi Bennani all improving to pass the Argentinian, who had only set one lap at the beginning of the session.

The other two Citroëns found more time as they continued to circulate, with both Yvan Muller improving followed in short order by Loeb, both surpassing the qualifying lap record set by Alain Menu in 2012, with Loeb’s time of 1:43.427 ending up the fastest of the session.

Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli enjoyed a spin at the first chicane at the start of the session, with Campos’ Hugo Valente running down the escape road in the final sector a few minutes later, but all the drama was set for the end of the session.

Tiago Monteiro’s JAS Motorsport Honda came to a halt at the end of the pit lane with smoke emanating from the bonnet, while Tom Coronel was on a flying lap, close to the pace of the Citroëns before he clipped the wall at the second chicane on the right-side of his Chevrolet Cruze, bouncing across and collecting the other wall as well, and then spun and crashed into the wall again as he tried to recover.

The session was red flagged and no one else was able to improve.

The next practice session is at 11:15 WEST.