Alain Menu topped the timesheets as the run-in to the World Touring Car Championship season commenced with a Friday test session at Suzuka in Japan.
Chevrolet driver Menu knocked Polestar Volvo pilot Robert Dahlgren off top spot with a couple minutes remaining in what was an unusually closely fought session.
Rob Huff, who is 24 points behind teammate and points leader Yvan Muller arriving in Asia, posted the third fastest time, 0.253 seconds behind Menu. Tiago Monteiro edged out Muller to put his SUNRED Leon fourth.
Tom Coronel was the top BMW in sixth ahead of Gabriele Tarquini, while rally driver Toshi Arai was an impressive eighth on his car racing debut in a fourth factory Chevrolet Cruze. Darryl O'Young was ninth in his Bamboo-run Cruze, ahead of the returning Colin Turkington.
Debutant Hiroki Yoshimoto was 14th in his SUNRED car, just ahead of Norbert Michelisz who limited his running with an off that brought out the red flags just five minutes into the session. Masaki Kano was 21st, making his season debut in the KK Motorsport-entered BMW, just ahead of another WTCC newcomer Charles Ng of Hong Kong in a normally-aspirated Engstler BMW.
Test session times
|1||Alain Menu||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||53.608||24|
|2||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar||Volvo C30 Drive||53.722||0.114||16|
|3||Robert Huff||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||53.861||0.253||20|
|4||Tiago Monteiro||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||54.177||0.569||23|
|5||Yvan Muller||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||54.200||0.592||17|
|6||Tom Coronel||ROAL||BMW 320 TC||54.409||0.801||22|
|7||Gabriele Tarquini||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||54.448||0.840||22|
|8||Toshihiro Arai||Chevrolet||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||54.479||0.871||26|
|9||Darryl O’Young||Bamboo||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||54.615||1.007||24|
|10||Colin Turkington||Wiechers||BMW 320 TC||54.643||1.035||23|
|11||Michel Nykjaer||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||54.721||1.113||23|
|12||Javier Villa||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||54.750||1.142||25|
|13||Kristian Poulsen||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||54.830||1.222||28|
|14||Hiroki Yoshimoto||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||55.026||1.418||21|
|15||Norbert Michelisz||Zengo||BMW 320 TC||55.036||1.428||12|
|16||Yukinori Taniguchi||Bamboo||Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T||55.067||1.459||23|
|17||Mehdi Bennani||Proteam||BMW 320 TC||55.068||1.460||26|
|18||Fredy Barth||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||55.354||1.746||24|
|19||Franz Engstler||Engstler||BMW 320 TC||55.403||1.795||27|
|20||Aleksei Dudukalo||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||55.636||2.028||25|
|21||Masaki Kano||KK||BMW 320 TC||56.158||2.550||28|
|22||Charles Ng||Engstler||BMW 320si||56.567||2.959||26|
|23||Pepe Oriola||Sunred||Sunred SR Leon 1.6T||56.906||3.298||9|
|24||Fabio Fabiani||Proteam||BMW 320si||59.847||6.239||25|