Tiago Monteiro leads damp Beijing test session

Tiago Monteiro emerged fastest in a damp test session at Beijing, China. The Portuguese driver set the pace just under the flag in his Honda Civic, three tenths ahead of championship leader José María López’s Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. Rob Huff made sure there were three different manufacturers in the top three by putting his Lada Granta in third.

The session was led by Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani, who set an impressive pace on the drying track. With 12 minutes to go the Seat León TC2 of Michael Soong was beached in the gravel, which imposed a long red flag period as the officials struggled to extract the car from the wet run-off

At the restart several lead changes took place as the track dried up further. Just five minutes before the end of the session Yvan Muller had a big moment at the last corner in his Citroën, remaining sideways on the track as everyone managed to avoid colliding with the Frenchman.

With López leading the session until the chequered flag, Monteiro put in a last gasp performance which launched him into the lead. Rob Huff also made a late improvement to third, leaving Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini in fourth ahead of Sébastian Loeb and Mehdi Bennani in sixth.

Tom Coronel emerged as the fastest Chevrolet in eighth, 1.3s off the pace and just behind Yvan Muller. Lada duo Thompson-Kozlovskiy rounded out the top ten. Local hero Ma Qing Hua went no further than 14th, 2.4s off the pace.

Next up for the WTCC is Free Practice 1, which is scheduled for 6.20 CET.