Farfus sets the benchmark

Local hero Augusto Farfus has started off the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship season in the best possible way after ending up almost half a second quicker than nearest rival Alain Menu in the season's first test session.

The 26 year old from Curitiba lapped the 3.7km track in a time of 1m24.243s having led the session for over half its distance. Farfus' team mate Andy Priaulx led the session at the start, but finished third overall, the Chevrolet of Alain Menu splitting them.

The top 5 slots at the end of the 30 minute session were all filled by works cars, a brace of RBM run BMW's and the trio or RML run Chevrolet's, with the first TDi Seat of Gabriele Tarquini in 6th, the fastest TDi, while team mate Jordi Gene completed 3 laps before grinding to a holt out on track.

The fastest of the newcomers to the 2010 WTCC was the 2009 Seat Leon Eurocup Champion, Hungarian youngster Norbert Michelisz, who beat more experienced racers like Tom Coronel and Tiago Monteiro and finished a competitive seventh overall, just over three tenths of a second behind 2009 Champion Tarquini.

In the Independents Category, debutant Darryl O'Young of British based team bamboo engineering ended the session fastest, although team mate Harry Vaulkhard led the Independents until his steering died. Fellow Independent runner Stefano D’Aste of Scuderia Proteam Motorsport caused the seasons first red flag after spinning at corner 4.

After the opening 30 minutes of the 2010 Championship, what did the drivers have to say?

Augusto Farfus – BMW Team RBM: “I am happy. We took advantage of the red flag and pitted to make some changes to the car, which were very effective. It was a good feeling to drive around so quickly. Now I have set the pace. I’m sure that from tomorrow the others will be closer but I wish to stay ahead if I can.”

Alain Menu – Chevrolet: “It was a session to get used to the track again. For the time being we are competitive as I am four tenths slower than Farfus, who was very quick. The car has too much understeer in the tight corners, so we have something to work on. If we manage to solve this I think we will be looking good.”

Gabriele Taquini – SR-Sport: “I am quite satisfied. We benefitted from our past experience and went out straightaway with the best set up for this track. The car was good from the very beginning so I am optimistic. I was really surprised by how much grip there was on the track. Last year we were struggling to find grip but now it’s totally different.”