Saturday morning at Sonoma, the World Touring Car Championship World Series practiced twice, prior to qualifying. Current points leader YVAN MULLER/No.1 Chevrolet was fastest in the first session at 1:46.398/84.77 mph/136.42 kph. Second fastest was TOM CHILTON/No.23 Team Aon Ford – 1:46.451/84.72 mph/136.35 kph – a far cry from Friday’s test session, where he was eighteenth of 22 cars.
Third through fifth in Practice One were ALAIN MENU/No.8 Chevrolet; GABRIELE TARQUINI/No.3 SEAT Leon WTCC; and NORBERT MICHELISZ/No.5 Zengo Motorsport BMW 320 TC.
The only American ever to run the WTCC Series, ROB HOLLAND of Denver CO was twentieth in No.29 bamboo-engineering Chevrolet. This is his first time in the car. He got the call Thursday afternoon to fill in for the team’s usual driver, and by Thursday evening Holland was in Sonoma, ready to go. Holland said he has somewhat of a reputation for driving touring cars, being the first American in 40 years to run the British Touring Car Series.
Holland said he’s really pleased to be racing this weekend, “with the best touring car drivers in the world.” He said the WTCC Series has the most developed and refined factory level cars. “They are amazing to drive.” For him, “Driving touring cars is an adaptive process. American touring car series have more production based cars needing one style. British Touring Cars require another style, and WTCC yet another.”
The session was relatively uneventful. One car blew an engine, laying down oil, causing a Red Flag. Also, a couple of drivers evidently don’t have team orders. The ROAL Motorsport BMW drivers had a “misunderstanding.” TOM CORONEL of New Zealand rear-ended ALBERTO CERQUI of Italy. After the session, the team was beavering away to repair the damage in time in two hours before the second practice.