Marrakesh WTCR: Bjork tops practice for Lynk & Co

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Marrakesh WTCR: Bjork tops practice for Lynk & Co
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Apr 6, 2019, 11:16 AM

Thed Bjork put Cyan Racing's new Lynk & Co 03 on top in practice for the World Touring Car Cup season opener in Marrakech.

Bjork, the 2017 World Touring Car Championship title winner, set a best time of 1m25.308s in the shorter second session at the Moulay El Hassan street circuit.

Despite air temperatures hovering at around 12C, sunshine before FP2 helped dry out damp spots that had remained after first practice, and it took WRT's Jean-Karl Vernay less than 10 minutes to beat Aurelien Panis's 1m25.841s benchmark from the first session.

Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini spent much of the first half of the 30-minute session in the pits, but vaulted his BRC Hyundai i30 N to the top of the times with a 1m25.625s.

That effort was beaten by Tiago Monteiro, Tarquini's BRC stablemate Norbert Michelisz and Esteban Guerrieri, before Bjork hit the front by going a tenth and a half faster than the Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R.

The session was stopped with four and a half minutes left on the clock when Tom Coronel briefly came to a halt on track after his front-right tyre went down at the first corner - a minute or so after Gordon Shedden had also suffered a puncture at the same spot.

But Coronel got going again and was able to limp his Comtoyou Cupra back to the pits, allowing drivers one final attempt at a fast run.

Guerrieri looked as though he might trouble Bjork's top spot with a fastest first sector of all on his first flying lap back out on track, but ultimately backed out of that effort.

The Argentinian did go faster on his final run, but an effort of 1m25.402s left him 0.094 seconds down - meaning Bjork, who took pole for the opening WTCR race in Marrakech last season, ended FP2 on top and within a second of Tarquini's qualifying lap record.

Bjork's Cyan team-mate Yvan Muller jumped up to third late on in his Lynk & Co 03, a further 0.038s back from Guerrieri, while Norbert Michelisz was the fastest of Hyundai's contenders in fourth.

Monteiro made a strong start to his first weekend back in World Touring Cars on a full-time basis by going fifth fastest in both sessions in his KCMG Honda.

Tarquini's early benchmark time was good enough for sixth in the final FP2 order ahead of Yann Ehrlacher - whose mirror fell of and had to be collected by marshals under a full-course yellow in FP2 - and Panis (Comtoyou Cupra), who had earlier beaten Vernay and the Lukoil-backed BRC Hyundai of Nicky Catsburg to top spot in FP1.

The PWR Cupra of Mikel Azcona and Vernay's Audi RS3 LMS completed the top 10 in the faster second session, with both within half a second of Bjork's time.

Rob Huff was again fastest of the Volkswagen contingent in 11th in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Golf GTI, one place ahead of where he ended FP1, while Kevin Ceccon put Team Mulsanne's lead Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce 13th after ending FP1 in 21st.

As pre-season predictions suggested, the field spread was incredibly tight; 18 cars were separated by a second in first practice, while all but three of the 26 drivers were in that bracket in FP2.

Three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx was the final driver within a second of Bjork in FP2, reporting on his final run that he had "a bit of play in the first part of my brake pedal" in his Lynk & Co 03.

FP1 results

Cla # Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 21 France Aurelien Panis Cupra 12 1'25.841  
2 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay Audi 18 1'25.942 0.101
3 88 Netherlands Nick Catsburg Hyundai 11 1'26.026 0.185
4 68 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 17 1'26.198 0.357
5 18 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 13 1'26.256 0.415
6 86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 7 1'26.440 0.599
7 100 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 12 1'26.459 0.618
8 37 Sweden Daniel Haglof Cupra 22 1'26.471 0.630
9 22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 12 1'26.489 0.648
10 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 12 1'26.553 0.712
11 111 Guernsey Andy Priaulx Lynk & Co 20 1'26.573 0.732
12 12 United Kingdom Rob Huff Volkswagen 9 1'26.620 0.779
13 1 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 7 1'26.629 0.788
14 11 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 16 1'26.649 0.808
15 25 Morocco Mehdi Bennani Volkswagen 14 1'26.767 0.926
16 14 Sweden Johan Kristoffersson Volkswagen 13 1'26.799 0.958
17 96 Spain Mikel Azcona Cupra 20 1'26.826 0.985
18 8 Brazil Augusto Farfus Hyundai 15 1'26.839 0.998
19 52 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden Audi 14 1'26.849 1.008
20 10 Netherlands Niels Langeveld Audi 23 1'27.104 1.263
21 31 Italy Kevin Ceccon Alfa Romeo 21 1'27.115 1.274
22 50 Netherlands Tom Coronel Cupra 6 1'27.140 1.299
23 29 Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 6 1'27.508 1.667
24 9 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 25 1'27.559 1.718
25 33 Germany Benjamin Leuchter Volkswagen 17 1'28.016 2.175
26 55 China Ma Qing Hua Alfa Romeo 18 1'29.689 3.848

FP2 results

Cla # Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 11 Sweden Thed Björk Lynk & Co 12 1'25.308  
2 86 Argentina Esteban Guerrieri Honda 12 1'25.402 0.094
3 100 France Yvan Muller Lynk & Co 9 1'25.440 0.132
4 5 Hungary Norbert Michelisz Hyundai 13 1'25.498 0.190
5 18 Portugal Tiago Monteiro Honda 17 1'25.510 0.202
6 1 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Hyundai 8 1'25.625 0.317
7 68 France Yann Ehrlacher Lynk & Co 15 1'25.736 0.428
8 21 France Aurelien Panis Cupra 14 1'25.754 0.446
9 96 Spain Mikel Azcona Cupra 17 1'25.766 0.458
10 69 France Jean-Karl Vernay Audi 13 1'25.776 0.468
11 12 United Kingdom Rob Huff Volkswagen 13 1'25.831 0.523
12 88 Netherlands Nick Catsburg Hyundai 12 1'25.849 0.541
13 31 Italy Kevin Ceccon Alfa Romeo 17 1'25.857 0.549
14 29 Argentina Nestor Girolami Honda 13 1'25.858 0.550
15 8 Brazil Augusto Farfus Hyundai 16 1'25.899 0.591
16 52 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden Audi 11 1'25.967 0.659
17 50 Netherlands Tom Coronel Cupra 13 1'26.023 0.715
18 9 Hungary Attila Tassi Honda 17 1'26.031 0.723
19 22 Belgium Frederic Vervisch Audi 10 1'26.118 0.810
20 14 Sweden Johan Kristoffersson Volkswagen 15 1'26.126 0.818
21 37 Sweden Daniel Haglof Cupra 13 1'26.151 0.843
22 25 Morocco Mehdi Bennani Volkswagen 13 1'26.184 0.876
23 111 Guernsey Andy Priaulx Lynk & Co 14 1'26.200 0.892
24 55 China Ma Qing Hua Alfa Romeo 15 1'26.357 1.049
25 10 Netherlands Niels Langeveld Audi 15 1'26.472 1.164
26 33 Germany Benjamin Leuchter Volkswagen 13 1'26.844 1.536
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About this article

Series WTCR
Event Marrakesh
Drivers Thed Björk
Teams Polestar Cyan Racing
Author Jack Cozens
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