Gabriele Tarquini leads Honda 1-2 in first test session in Shanghai

Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini set the fastest time during the first 30-minute test session of the weekend in Shanghai, China, despite the extra 40kg weight penalty that Honda have acquired since their home race in Japan two weeks ago, leading privateer Zengő Motorsport Honda driver Norbert Michelisz, with reigning champion José María López third for Citroën .

Tarquini produced his best lap in the final seconds of the session, taking the spot away from Michelisz, after the 31-year-old Hungarian had knocked rival independent driver Mehdi Bennani, in the Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, off the top of the time sheets with just over five minutes to go with a time of 1:51.271.

Bennani had himself deposed factory Citroën driver, and his team boss, Sébastien Loeb from P1 just after half-way through the session.

Nicky Catsburg then put his Lada Vesta up to second with just over a minute remaining, with Citroën’s Yvan Muller then taking P2 from the Dutch driver, but then Tarquini went quickest and López, dropping them to fourth and fifth in the final order.

Bennani finished the session sixth with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton the best placed of the Chevrolet RML Cruze drivers in seventh.

Lada’s Rob Huff was eighth quickest, while local driver Ma Qing Hua was ninth in his Citroën C-Elysée, with Sébastien Loeb completing the top ten, just six-tenths off the overall pace.

Free Practice 1 is up next and takes place at 9:10 CST on Saturday.