Photo: Citroën Racing

José María López leads Yvan Muller in first test at Spa

Championship leader José María López led the way in the 30 minute Friday test session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, setting his best time in the final seconds to topple Citroën team-mate and main rival Yvan Muller from the top of the time sheets.

The Argentinian’s time of 2:24.574 was almost ten seconds faster than the qualifying lap record set in 2005 by Augusto Farfus, then driving a normally aspirated Alfa Romeo 156. The 31-year-old was also the only driver in the 2:24s, with Muller’s time seven-tenths of a second slower, where he was closely followed by Honda’s Tiago Monteiro.

The top spot changed hands a few times during the session, with López initially holding it before late improvements from Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente in his Chevrolet Cruze, and then Yvan Muller with five minutes to go going fastest, before López’s final lap flyer.

The session was incident free, but ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton suffered a problem late in the session and was forced to crawl around the track and back to the pits, eneding up 11th overall.

Only three of the six Chevrolets therefore made it into the top ten, with both Campos Racing’s cars sixth and seventh, with Serbian driver Dusan Borkovic ahead of team-mate Valente, and Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli tenth fastest.

All four Citroëns featured strongly, with López ahead of Muller, and with Sébastien Loeb fourth and Ma Qing Hua eighth.

The Lada drivers struggled for pace, as they anticipated, with James Thompson the fastest of the three in 14th, 4.4 seconds off the pace of López, while Franz Engstler was the fastest of the TC2T class drivers in 18th, a whole ten seconds off the pace in the BMW 320 TC.

WTCC newcomer Norbert Nagy was unable to set a timed lap due to technical issues in his Campos Racing-run SEAT León WTCC, and was classified in 21st and last.

The next session is Free Practice 1 which gets underway at 09:00 CET tomorrow.