Photo: Citroën Racing

José María López leads Thursday testing at the Nürburgring

Citroën Racing’s José María López was fastest of all in the first one-hour test session at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, leading team-mates Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller, despite suffering a misfire while he was set to improve on his time.

The reigning champion’s first lap of 8:41.192 was an early benchmark which was never bettered in the extended length practice due to the nature of the circuit. López set four laps during the session, therefore 100km in total, almost the equivalent of two standard WTCC race distances.

A misfire in the final sector saw the Argentinian forced to abort a lap which was certain to be faster than his previous run, leaving his 8:41.193 as the best lap of the session.

López wasn’t the only driver to suffer problems during the test, with Honda’s Tiago Monteiro having a puncture on his front-left early in the session, but the Portuguese driver was able to go out and finish the session sixth fastest, 4.5 seconds from López’s ultimate time.

Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller completed a Citroën top three, with Hugo Valente the closest competitor to the Citroëns in fourth in the Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze. The Frenchman was 2.7 seconds from López’s time on the 25km circuit, with Gabriele Tarquini fifth and the best placed of the Hondas.

Of the two Ladas entered this weekend, Jaap van Lagen was ninth fastest on his WTCC return racing the new Vesta TC1, while Rob Huff only set one flying lap right at the end of the session was 13th fastest.

Sabine Schmitz on her WTCC debut was 17th and last, but never set a full flying lap in the session, completing just a pair of exploration laps in the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze.

The next session for the WTCC this weekend is Free Practice 1, which takes place at 8:15 CET tomorrow.