Photo: WTCC Media

Tom Chilton tops twilight Free Practice 2 in Thailand

​Tom Chilton pulled a surprise on the paddock​,​ ​with the ROAL Motorsport driver fastest in the second free practice session in Buriram, Thailand. The Brit came home ahead of Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, with Norbert Michelisz third for Zengo Motorsport.

The session started as the previous had finished, with José María López leading ​the way ​for ​​Citroën. Midway through the session it looked like Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente could take the lead​ from the reigning champion​, but he failed to do so by a blink of an eye. ​Then the championship leader further improved his lap time and ​seemed to ​be unstoppable.

However, during the last runs​ on new tyres​, things completely changed, with a wave of independents taking the lead​, ​starting ​with Sébastien Loeb ​​Citroën​ driver ​Mehdi Bennani, who was soon passed by Norbert Michelisz and ​then ​eventual pace-setter Tom Chilton. As the session ended, Gabriele Tarquini jumped up to second ahead of Michelisz, with Honda’s Tiago Monteiro showing good pace for the Civic WTCC​ with fourth.​

Bennani ​finished fifth ahead of Hugo Valente, once again the fastest Chevrolet, albeit this time ​just 0.005s quicker than fellow Campos Racing driver John Filippi. José María López slipped down to eighth, with Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb in ninth and Grégoire Demoustier completing the top ten​ for Craft-Bamboo Racing.​.

Rob Huff finished in 12th, the quickest Lada driver, with Yvan Muller continuing his struggles by finishing just behind the Brit​ in 13th​. Nicolas Lapierre made it to the track for three laps as the Lada Sport Rosneft crew did a very good job in repairing the car from the Frenchman’s earlier crash in ​F​ree ​P​ractice 1, which was caused by a suspension failure.

Again a number of drivers were warned or disallowed lap times due to track limits, with Nicky Catsburg and Tin Sritrai among the drivers awarded a penalty.

Action will resume tomorrow for qualifying, starting at 10.00 local time.