Alex MacDowall pipped factory-entered Chevrolet counterpart Rob Huff to top the test session ahead of the World Touring Car Championship Race of China, while Honda’s Tiago Monteiro and series returnee Colin Turkington both impressed to finish up in the top five.
Cumbrian MacDowall posted a 1m56.304 in his bamboo engineering Cruze, denying Huff first place by 0.042s. Pepe Oriola also looked quick in his SEAT Leon, falling just 0.083s shy of MacDowall.
Monteiro was a fine fourth at the start of the second weekend for the new Honda Civic after topping the timing screens at one stage, finishing up only 0.135s off the pace. Turkington was fifth in his first session in the West Surrey Racing-run Chevrolet Cruze, 0.347s away from MacDowall.
Yvan Muller, who is tied for the championship lead with teammate Huff coming into the penultimate weekend of the season, was 0.002s slower than Turkington in sixth. Tom Coronel was the best of the BMWs in seventh ahead of local star Darryl O’Young in the second bamboo Chevrolet. SEAT drivers Tom Boardman and Fernando Monje rounded out the top ten.
Alain Menu languished down in 11th in the third factory Chevrolet, eight tenths off the pace in a close session. James Nash finished up 12th in his Team Aon Ford, ahead of Norbert Michelisz’s BMW and the Lukoil SEATs of Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo. BMW drivers Mehdi Bennani and Stefano D’Aste came next ahead of the second Aon Ford of Tom Chilton and the Engstler BMWs of Charles Ng and Franz Engstler.
Fredy Barth was 21st on his series return in a SEAT, with Alberto Cerqui the slowest of the regulars in his ROAL BMW. Frenchman Hugo Valente was 23rd in his Sunred Leon, leading normally-aspirated local additions Eric Kwong, Kelvin Leong, Filipe de Souza, Kin Veng Ng and Alex Liu.