Mikhail Grachev made a strong impression in the second free practice session at Sochi: the Russian driver of Liqui Moly Team Engstler, broke the 2:21 threshold, setting a time of 2:20.993 by mid-session which could not be beaten. The session had started after a few drops of rain fell, which did not interfere with the proceedings. The SEAT León cars immediately showed their good form, with Jordi Gené (2:21.641) leading in the rankings. Some time after, Gianni Morbidelli set second-fastest time, but almost 6 tenths behind the Spaniard. Once Grachev got into serious business on new tyres, though, things got settled for good, with the Omsk boy signing first a time of 2:21.017 and then an even more impressive 2:20.993. Michel Nykjær, Pepe Oriola, Gianni Morbidelli, Gené, Stefano Comini and Andrea Belicchi improved their times in the final laps, but could not beat Grachev. The only one who actually did it was Pepe Oriola but his time of 2:20.467 was disallowed for trespassing the track limits. Morbidelli (21:21.174), Oriola (2:21.187) and Aleksey Dudukalo (2:21.484) filled the position from second to fourth.
An obviously happy Grachev commented: “I do have a slight advantage on this track and I am happy it worked out. Still, competition will learn fast, but I hope I can make something good in my home event.”
Gené, who had led session in the early stages, explained: “I still am the fastest driver in sector 1, which is the only one where you cannot play with track limits. Here, it all depends on how much you cut the lines, especially in sector 2, where kerbs are basically not existent.”
Comini, who was eventually fifth-fastest, expressed confidence: “Given the fact I was on old tyres and brake pads, I am very happy of my result. Here it really depends more on those elements than on pure ability.”
The Qualifying session will begin at 15.10 local time.
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