Reigning world champions Chevrolet laid down a marker ahead of this weekend's World Touring Car Championship opener, by dominating the top of the timesheets on the pre-season test day at Monza today.
Cruze drivers held top spot in all five of the one-hour test sessions. Rob Huff recorded the fastest time in the first session with a 1m58.620s. Teammate and drivers' champion Yvan Muller was just 0.041s behind, with both drivers racking up 17 laps of the historic circuit.
The following three places were also filled by the Chevrolets of Alain Menu, Scandinavian champion Rickard Rydell and Alex MacDowall, who makes his WTCC debut this weekend after switching from the British championship. Independent stalwart Stefano D'Aste was the best of the rest in sixth place, 2.794s away from Huff and over a second behind MacDowall.
Session two saw Muller take his turn at the top with a time of 1m58.375, followed by Huff and Menu with MacDowall just 0.359s away from the Frenchman in fourth place. Rydell meanwhile maintained the Chevrolet lockout on the top five.
The same five were still on top in the third session with Muller in P1 on 1m58.459s, 0.020s ahead of Menu with Huff, MacDowall and Rydell in close formation.
After the lunch break, the trio of factory RML-run cars all sat out the fourth session – having consistently clocked up more laps than most during the morning. In their absence, MacDowall kept the brand on top in his Bamboo-run car by recording a 1m59.415s. ROAL Motorsport BMW driver Tom Coronel took up second place ahead of fellow BMW pilot Franz Engstler, with Rydell fourth and D'Aste fifth. Tom Chilton brought the Team Aon Ford Focus up to its best position of the day in sixth, within a second of MacDowall.
The factory Chevrolets returned for the fifth and final session, with Muller recording the fastest time of the day in the form of a 1m58.022. Huff was just 0.013s adrift, with Menu the best part of four tenths further back. Gabriele Tarquini put his SEAT Leon with its new factory-developed turbocharged engine into fourth spot, just six tenths off Muller.
The WTCC cars will return to the track on Saturday when the weekend begins proper with free practice.