Photo: WTCC Media

Sébastien Loeb finishes on top in official test in Spain

Citroën Total WTCC driver Sébastien Loeb finished the first test day of the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship season on the top of the time sheets after posting a time of 1:49.972 in the morning at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Loeb’s closest rival was that of Mehdi Bennani, who has moved across to Loeb’s team Sébastien Loeb Racing this season, in the identical Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, with the Moroccan driver actually the fastest of all those taking part in the afternoon session.

The drivers and teams were focussing on their own development programmes, with most not monitoring the times between the different cars.

The closest challenger to the Citroëns was Gabriele Tarquini, who was one of only three drivers to improve their time in the afternoon session, and wound up as the fastest of the Honda drivers.

Also improving in the afternoon session was Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, who had limited running in the first session due to a handling problem which the Spanish team spent the first half of the afternoon session addressing. Valente briefly handed his car over to former Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis, who was doing a feature for the TC production during the test, before Valente went out and set a time of 1:51.216, to finish as the fastest of the Chevrolet drivers.

Tiago Monteiro was fifth quickest for Honda, with John Filippi sixth in the other Campos Chevrolet Cruze, the only other driver to improve his time in the afternoon session. Norbert Michelisz ended the test seventh in the independent Zengő Motorsport Honda, just over two seconds down on Sébastien Loeb’s time.

Stefano D’Aste was the only other driver to take part in the test, driving the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1, but did not have a transponder, so no official times were recorded for the Italian, who is making his return to the WTCC this season, but reportedly set a time of 1:51.788 on his first outing in a front-wheel drive touring car, which would have put him seventh, behind Filippi and ahead of Michelisz.

Further private tests are scheduled by all teams next week before the cars and equipment are air freighted to Termas de Río Hondo for the first round of the Championship on March 8th.