Photo: Citroën Racing

Ma Qing Hua leads mixed up second practice in France

Citroën’s Ma Qing Hua topped the time sheets in the second and final practice session on Saturday at the circuit Paul Ricard ahead of three Chevrolets, with Grégoire Demoustier second for Craft-Bamboo leading ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel and Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente.

In a session where it appeared many were holding their cards close to their chest ahead of qualifying, the Hondas had set the early pace, with Norbert Michelisz setting the first target time of 1:31.910, which would remain his best time come the end of the session. However, the time would wind up only good enough for 14th for the Zengo Motorsport driver.

Gabriele Tarquini then went fastest of all in the works Honda Civic with a time of 1:31.826, before Sébastien Loeb went quicker still just after the ten minute mark for Citroën.

Ma Qing Hua then produced the best lap of the session at the half-way mark, with the Chinese Citroën driver setting the best time of the weekend so far with a lap of 1:30.029, while the privateer Chevrolets all came forward, with Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Grégoire Demoustier using his familiarity of the track to produce his best practice result of the season with the second fastest time despite a mistake in the final sector.

Tom Coronel was third in the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet ahead of Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, while Mehdi Bennani was fifth overall in the Sebastien Loeb Racing-run Citroën C-Elysée WTCC.

Tiago Monteiro finished the session as the best placed Honda in ninth, while Lada struggled with the Russian cars unsettled with their 20kg of ballast this weekend. Jaap van Lagen was the best placed of the three Vestas in 16th, with Rob Huff and Nicky Catsburg completing the final three spots.

Just two drivers received warnings for exceeding the track limits at Turn 5 in this session. They were Zengo Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz and Münnich Motorsport’s Stefano D’Aste, but no one had their times deleted.

Qualifying is next and takes place at 15:00 CET.