Photo: WTCC Media

Tiago Monteiro leads the way again in Free Practice 1

Tiago Monteiro set the benchmark in Free Practice 1 in his Honda Civic WTCC at the Beijing Goldenport circuit. Just like in the test session, the Portuguese driver improved his lap time late in the 30 minutes session, demoting José María López’s Citroën C-Elysée to second just before the end. Ma Qing Hua completed the top three for the French manufacturer. The session was stopped with 16 seconds to go due to an off by López, who beached himself in the gravel.

The session saw several lead changes as the drivers got to grips with the drying track. An early Citroën domination looked to have set the pace, but as the times went down several drivers battled it out for the lead.

12 minutes into the session, Tom Coronel clipped the inside tyres at the chicane, causing minor bodywork damage to the front right of his Chevrolet Cruze.

Honda duo Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini demoted early session leader Sébastien Loeb to sixth. The Citroën driver was slightly quicker than Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani, whereas James Thompson and Mikhail Kozlovskiy ended up eighth and ninth for Lada, although the Brit had been as high as fourth during the session.

Yvan Muller rounded out the top ten for Citroën, completing as little as 13 laps and 1.2s off the pace.

Next up for the WTCC is Free Practice 2, which is scheduled for 17:20 CST.