Hungarian rookie leads in Marrakech WTCC Race of Morocco opening test
Hungarian rookie Norbert Michelisz led the way with a fastest lap of 1:49.347, as the WTCC Race of Morocco officially got underway today on the streets of Marrakech.
Tom Coronel and his SEAT León TDI (1:49.446) led for the majority of the session but was demoted to second after the restart. Rob Huff (1:49.505) in his Chevrolet Cruze rounded out the top three.
BMW Team RBM’s Augusto Farfus (1:49.525) finished fourth ahead of Jordi Gené (1:49.734), Yvan Muller (1:49.885) and reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini (1:49.949). The top six were covered by only 0.6 seconds.
Chevrolet’s Alain Menu (1:50.421) ended eighth ahead of Andy Priaulx (1:50.620) in his BMW 320si. Rookie Challenge racer Fredy Barth (1:50.770) rounded out the top ten in his SEAT León TDI. Franz Engstler posted a time of 1:50.880 around the new 4.624-kilometre circuit, ending the session quickest of the Independents in 11th overall.
Morocco’s season regular, Mehdi Bennani (1: 52.341) finished 16th in his BMW 320si.
The session was red flagged at half-way after Moroccan series newcomer Ismaïl Sbaï hit the wall at Turn 8 in his Chevrolet Lacetti. The Maurer Motorsport team had a difficult start with their second Moroccan racer Youssaf El Marnissi also stopping out on the track in the closing stages, while the third car of Larbi Tadlaoui did not take part in the session.
Norbert Michelisz ended the day quickest after an earlier collision with Sergio Hernández’s BMW 320si at Turn 15. Hernández spun but both continued the session with the Hungarian youngster going on to record his personal best time after the restart and ending the session on top.
A number of drivers were also cautioned for cutting the chicanes as they tried to find the quickest way around the street circuit in the 32°C Moroccan heat.