Loeb heads home Citroen 1-2-3-4 at Paul Ricard

Sebastien Loeb took his fifth career victory in the World Touring Car Championship at Paul Ricard, leading battling team-mates Yvan Muller, Jose Maria Lopez and Ma Qing Hua across the line to take his first win in his home country.

The French driver made a perfect getaway from the line and led comfortably into Turn 1, while all the action was behind as a fast-starting Lopez tried to pass Muller down the inside into the first corner, but Muller kept the door closed, forcing the Argentinian close to the wall.

Lada’s race didn’t start well, with a technical problem stopping 12th place qualifier Nicky Catsburg from making the start, while Rob Huff was involved in a squeeze into the chicane on the first lap with Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Gregoire Demoustier and was eliminated from the race with contact.

Norbert Michelisz made a great start from eighth on the grid in the Zengo Motorsport Honda and passed both the Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente and the works Honda of Tiago Monteiro for sixth before the first corner.

Monteiro battled back against Valente during the first three laps, eventually getting the better of the Frenchman at the final corner on lap three for seventh. Valente then hit one of the tyre stacks as he followed Monteiro at the chicane on lap four and was forced to pit with damage to his Chevrolet RML Cruze, becoming the third and final retirement from the race.

Loeb continued to pull out a lead while Muller had to fight to defend against Lopez for the mid-portion of the race, with Muller sporting rear-bumper damage from contact at the start.

After another rub when Muller made a mistake in the middle sector, the fight between the two drivers became more relaxed for the final laps, with Muller crossing the line a second clear of the Argentinian, and claws back the points gap to 26 points heading into race two.

Ma Qing Hua finished fourth completing a perfect result for the four factory cars, with Tom Chilton the best placed independent in fifth in an eventless race for the British driver.

Michelisz came under fire from Monteiro during the closing stages but was able to keep sixth, while Tarquini put in a sterling drive to come from 14th to finish eighth in his Honda Civic.

Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen driver Mehdi Bennani and Lada’s Jaap van Lagen completed the top ten.

Race two starts at 14:00 CET, with Bennani on pole in the reversed grid race ahead of van Lagen and Michelisz.

Neil Hudson, Touring Car Times

Pos Driver  Car   Time  Gap
Sebastien Loeb Citroen 24m38.108  
Yvan Muller Citroen 24m44.128 6.020
Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 24m45.255 7.147
Ma Qing Hua Citroen 24m47.210 9.102
Tom Chilton Chevrolet 24m50.746 12.638
Norbert Michelisz Honda 24m54.140 16.032
Tiago Monteiro Honda 24m54.394 16.286
Gabriele Tarquini Honda 24m58.996 20.888
Mehdi Bennani Citroen 25m05.299 27.191
10  Jaap van Lagen Lada 25m09.697 31.589
11  Rickard Rydell Honda 25m09.910 31.802
12  Tom Coronel Chevrolet 25m09.930 31.822
13  Gregoire Demoustier Chevrolet 25m16.766 38.658
14  Stefano D'Aste Chevrolet 25m20.136 42.028
15  John Filippi Chevrolet 25m20.470 42.362

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WTCC
Event Paul Ricard
Track Circuit Paul Ricard
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Yvan Muller , Jose Maria Lopez
Teams Citroën World Touring Car team
Article type Race report