FIA WTCR / Oscaro

WTCR JAPAN Free Practice 1 - Highlights

Mato Homola set the pace in the opening free practice session at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan as Tiago Monteiro made an emotional return to motorsport in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO at the majestic Suzuka circuit. Monteiro, who was injured in a testing accident last year, set a time good enough for P22 in his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR. But lap times were irrelevant on this occasion, as the whole WTCR OSCARO community welcomed him back after his incredible return to fitness. BRC Racing Team’s Norbert Michelisz topped the session for most of its 30-minute duration in his Hyundai i30 N TCR, but a late flurry of improvements from rivals changed the order. Aurélien Comte knocked Michelisz from the top spot in his DG Sport Compétition PEUGEOT 308TCR, only for Comtoyou Racing’s Aurélien Panis to lower the benchmark in his Audi RS 3 LMS. Then Homola’s PEUGEOT flashed across the line with a time of 2m13.087s to go fastest. “I am motivated so much,” he said. “The car has potential and it’s a really nice track, with lots of cool corners. It’s looking good for the rest of the weekend.” Just one second separated the top 10 around the 5.8km circuit, with six customer racing brands represented within that short space of time. Behind Homola, Panis and Comte, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri was the fastest Honda driver, demoting Michelisz to fifth. Audi Sport Team Comtoyou’s Denis Dupont was next, ahead of Mehdi Bennani in his Sébastien Loeb Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The Cupra TCR of Team OSCARO by Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola was eighth, just ahead of his team-mate John Filippi, while Nathanaël Berthon rounded out the top 10 in his Audi. WTCR OSCARO points leader Gabriele Tarquini was P12 for BRC Racing Team, while YMR Hyundai rivals Yvan Muller and Thed Björk were P18 and P19 respectively. Team Mulsanne’s new driver, Luigi Ferrara, was P21 in his first session in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR.