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The Citroën Total team's last "weekend" in the FIA #wtcc kicked off with two sessions of free practice on Thursday. José María López showed how competitive the Citroën C-Elysée #wtcc will be on the Qatari circuit by clocking the fastest time in the first session. Qualifying and the races will be held tomorrow, culminating late in the evening.
When they arrived at the circuit, Yvan Muller and José María López found their Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs decked out in special livery. The cars are now emblazoned with the word "CHAMPiiiONS" along their flanks, in reference to Citroën's three FIA #wtcc Manufacturers' titles*, while patchwork portraits of their drivers have also been added. Pop art in the paddocks!
After taking part in the inescapable Mannequin Challenge, the team set about preparing for Free Practice 1. At 4 p.m., as the sun began to drop in the #qatar sky, the C-Elysées took to the track.
Halfway through the session, José María López claimed the fastest time with a lap clocked at 2m02.182s. The Argentine driver held on to the lead until the chequered flag, while Yvan Muller produced the eighth-fastest performance.
Scheduled for 9.30 p.m., the second half-hour practice session took place under the fierce glare of the Losail circuit's powerful spotlights. This time around, José María López was back in the pack, with the fourth best time. But when the fastest sectors were added together, Pechito came in just 0.013s slower than the leader.
Yvan Muller was plagued by handling trouble and had to settle for eleventh place.
Qualifying for the last races of the 2016 FIA #wtcc season will get under way at 2.30 p.m., but the spectators will have to wait until 9.20 p.m. for the start of the opening race. The main race will follow at 10.35 p.m. (GMT+3).
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
José María López: "From my very first laps, I felt comfortable here. It was satisfying to clock the fastest time in Free Practice 1, which hasn't happened so often this year, what with us carrying the maximum ballast of 80kg. We tried different solutions in the second session, with the races in mind. I'm hoping to be in the mix for pole position tomorrow!"
Yvan Muller: "We were able to try quite a lot of configurations today. It was promising in the first session, then I think we lost our way slightly in the second. The balance wasn't right and we are going to analyse the data to work out whether it's down to the setup, changes in the track temperature, or the wear of the tyres. It will be strange to go straight into qualifying tomorrow, but it should be fun!"
* Subject to official publication of the results by the FIA.
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