Photo: Citroen Total WTCC

José María López tops Friday test session in Marrakech for Citroën

Citroën Racing’s José María López was fastest of all in the Friday afternoon test session at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan street circuit in Marrakech, pipping his team-mate Yvan Muller by over half a second just after the chequered flag fell.

The Citroëns all swapped the top spot on the time sheets during the 30 minute practice session, the only track activity for the FIA World Touring Car Championship today at the Moroccan circuit. First Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani shined in front of his home crowd to grab P1, before López put the factory Citroën C-Elysée ahead on his second flying run.

The times kept falling as the dust began to clear, with the WTCC cars only the second series to hit the track so far this weekend. With just under ten minutes to go, it was four-time champion Yvan Muller who put his Citroën on top, with Mehdi Bennani impressing again with a time just under five-hundredths of a second slower.

A yellow flag at Turn 4 spoiled a lot of drivers runs in the final minutes, but it was cleared up just in time for reigning champion José María López to put in one final run and be the only driver to set a time in the 1:44s with a time of 1:44.834.

A quick lap from Frenchman Hugo Valente in the Chevrolet RML Cruze put the 22-year-old fourth and best of the rest behind the Citroëns. The Campos Racing driver is competing with a new development engine this weekend, but as a result will incur a ten-place grid penalty.

Ma Qing Hua was fifth fastest in the relatively eventless session, with Ma having a quiet spin early on but suffering no damage in his Citroën.

Tiago Monteiro was the fastest Honda driver in sixth, just over a second off of José María López’s ultimate pace, with the Citroën of Sébastien Loeb, the ROAL Chevrolet of Coronel, and the two Hondas of Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz completing the top ten.

The best placed of the Lada Sport Rosneft drivers was Rob Huff, who finished the session 12th, while all 18 drivers entered for the weekend taking part in the session, with only the NIKA Racing Honda of Rickard Rydell absent after the Swede withdrew from the race yesterday due to a virus.

The next session for the WTCC is Free Practice 1, which gets underway at 8:15 local time tomorrow.