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Rio Hondo WTCC: Michelisz and Catsburg fastest in practice sessions

Tiago Monteiro, Honda, WTCC 2017, Race of Argentina

Honda's Norbert Michelisz and the Volvo of Nicky Catsburg topped a pair of fog-affected World Touring Car Championship practice sessions at Termas de Rio Hondo.

Michelisz was fastest in a truncated first practice, which was red flagged with more than 10 minutes of the session remaining due to a lack of visibility.

The start of half-hour session was delayed by 45 minutes and got underway at 0915 local time, but a mid-session stoppage and the later red flag rendered much of the half-hour session redundant.

Between the stoppages, Michelisz achieved a 1m44.170s lap of the Argentinian venue to beat team-mate Tiago Monteiro to the fastest time by 0.428 seconds.

The Volvo S60 Polestars of Catsburg and team-mate Nestor Girolami placed third and fifth, sandwiching the Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysee of Mehdi Bennani.

Practice two was also delayed by 10 minutes but ran without trouble once underway, despite fog persisting at some parts of the circuit.

Catsburg took his S60 - with 20 kilograms less ballast on board than at the previous round in Vila Real - to the fastest time of the weekend so far, achieving a 1m43.207s to dislodge home favourite Esteban Guerrieri.

Nicky Catsburg Polestar Volvo Nurburgring Termas de Rio Hondo WTCC 2017

Campos Racing driver Guerrieri's time was good enough to keep him second for the remainder of the session, ahead of factory Honda drivers Monteiro and Michelisz.

Rob Huff was the leading privateer Citroen driver in the second session as he dragged his Munnich Motorsport C-Elysee to fifth, ahead of Girolami, Bennani and his SLR team-mate Tom Chilton.

Tom Coronel's ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze was repaired in time to be transported to Argentina after his practice crash in Vila Real three weeks earlier and wound up ninth fastest in practice two, with the RC Motorsport Lada Vesta of Yann Ehrlacher completing the top 10.

The third Volvo of Thed Bjork was only 12th fastest and sat out a good chunk of the second session after collecting grass in his radiator during an off, while the third factory Honda Civic of Ryo Michigami also stopped early with an undiagnosed technical fault.

Zsolt Szabo, who is making his WTCC debut this weekend after replacing the TCR-bound Aurelien Panis at Zengo Motorsport, finished the second session 15th fastest.

The Hungarian had failed to set a time in the first practice session and stopped out on track with a fuel issue, causing the first red flag, but completed 17 laps in practice two and edged out team-mate Daniel Nagy at the bottom of the times by 0.256s.

PRACTICE ONE TIMES:

PosDriverTeamCarTimeGap
1Norbert MicheliszHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m44.170s-
2Tiago MonteiroHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m44.598s0.428s
3Nicky CatsburgPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m44.670s0.500s
4Mehdi BennaniSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m45.014s0.844s
5Nestor GirolamiPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m45.123s0.953s
6Thed BjorkPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m45.267s1.097s
7Rob HuffMunnich MotorsportCitroen1m45.414s1.244s
8Ryo MichigamiHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m45.856s1.686s
9Tom ChiltonSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m46.089s1.919s
10Tom CoronelROAL MotorsportChevrolet1m46.424s2.254s
11Esteban GuerrieriCampos RacingChevrolet1m46.487s2.317s
12John FilippiSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m46.612s2.442s
13Yann EhrlacherRC MotorsportLada1m47.190s3.020s
14Kevin GleasonRC MotorsportLada1m47.731s3.561s
15Daniel NagyZengo MotorsportHonda1m49.323s5.153s
16Zsolt David SzaboZengo MotorsportHonda--

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

PosDriverTeamCarTimeGap
1Nicky CatsburgPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m43.207s-
2Esteban GuerrieriCampos RacingChevrolet1m43.576s0.369s
3Tiago MonteiroHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m43.706s0.499s
4Norbert MicheliszHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m43.900s0.693s
5Rob HuffMunnich MotorsportCitroen1m44.088s0.881s
6Nestor GirolamiPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m44.180s0.973s
7Mehdi BennaniSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m44.230s1.023s
8Tom ChiltonSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m44.447s1.240s
9Tom CoronelROAL MotorsportChevrolet1m44.742s1.535s
10Yann EhrlacherRC MotorsportLada1m44.793s1.586s
11Ryo MichigamiHonda Racing Team JASHonda1m45.308s2.101s
12Thed BjorkPolestar Cyan RacingVolvo1m45.350s2.143s
13Kevin GleasonRC MotorsportLada1m45.460s2.253s
14John FilippiSebastien Loeb RacingCitroen1m45.480s2.273s
15Zsolt David SzaboZengo MotorsportHonda1m46.358s3.151s
16Daniel NagyZengo MotorsportHonda1m46.614s3.407s


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