Today the World Touring Cars of 2017 roared into life for the first day of pre season testing. It was the first chance to see new faces in new cars and to see how the season would be shaping up. It was also the first time we would get to see the new liveries for this season.
In total 13 cars were in attendance for the first day of pre season testing. Even though most of the cars were present, some drivers were absent. Yvan Muller was filling in for Nicky Catsburg, while Alberto Cherqui filled in for Tom Coronel during the morning sessions.
It was clear from the off set that the Citroen’s were still the car to beat. Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani topped both the morning and afternoon sessions. Huff was 0.777s ahead of the Moroccan driver setting a 1m52.888s lap. Then the squadron of Volvos completing the top 5 during the morning, over a second behind the pace setting Citroen.
It wasn’t plane sailing for the Swedish team, as Thed Bjork stopped on track with a puncture bring out the red flags. There would also be trouble for debutante Nestor Girolami, who went of at the first Lesmo which brought out the red flags again. It would appear to be a tough morning for Honda, as only Tiago Monteiro managed to break into the top 10, over 6 seconds behind. The team was adding new parts to each of it’s Civic’s throughout the day as they arrived at the circuit.
Huff topped the Afternoon session again with Bennani second, however the times were slower and the gap was smaller. Bennani was just 3 tenths behind Huffs 1m53.039 time. The surprise of the day was the young Frenchman Yann Ehrlacher and his RC Motorsport ran Lada Vesta. The Nephew of Yvan Muller managed P3 in the afternoon session, less than 3 tenths off the former World Champion. Muller himself almost a second behind in fifth during the afternoon. Zengo Motorsport had a tough day, with former Formula V8 3.5 driver Aurélien Panis failing to complete a lap during the afternoon session. Tom Coronel managed to run almost 3 seconds off the pace in his return to the Chevrolet seat. Honda again would have a tough time, with Ryo Michigami finishing the day 9th with Monteiro and Michelisz in 11th and 12th.
Testing continues tomorrow (Wednesday 15th) with two more 4 hour sessions. Will we see the full pace of Honda, and will Zengo motorsport be able to get on track? Tomorrow we will find out.