Lopez says Muller/Huff tussle key to Hungary win

Jose Maria Lopez believes the battle between Citroen teammate Yvan Muller and Honda's Rob Huff was pivotal to his latest WTCC triumph at the Hungaroring in difficult conditions.

Lopez says Muller/Huff tussle key to Hungary win
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Race winner José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Race winner José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Checkered flag for José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC; Yvan Muller, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Podium: Winner José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Start of the race, José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC lead

By winning the main race in Hungary, defending champion Lopez has retaken the lead of the championship, 12 points clear of Honda's Tiago Monteiro.

Starting from pole ahead of ROAL's Tom Coronel in wet conditions, the Argentine maintained lead, while the Dutch driver slipped at Turn 2 to allow Muller and Huff through, slotting behind Lopez.

“After a difficult first race we tried a new thing, but I think the main thing was rain tyres!” he joked, referring to Citroen's ill-fated choice to use slicks in the first race.

“It’s been one of the most difficult races in terms of grip... I was never comfortable on a lap, I always had someone attacking.

"I managed to pull away a little but the safety car brought us together and then Yvan attacked me a lot after the restart.

"I defended [my position] as Huff attacked Muller, which meant he lost a little bit of ground and I think that was the key to the race.

“When Huff was very close, the team told me he had a penalty, and that was a help for me,” said Lopez.

Opening race strategy call marginal

While the main race strategy call was straightforward, with rain falling, in the opening race the field was divided as the factory teams Citroen and Honda went for slicks - only to realise the track was too wet for the dry tyres.

On the strategy call in the opening race, Lopez remarked: “It was 50/50 after the out-laps, and sometimes these kinds of decisions are more difficult.

"What made us go on slicks is we saw Yvan, Tiago and Rob all go on slicks... it’s always easier with Monday’s newspaper to say ‘oh, you should have used rain tyres’, but we were a bit lucky since all the other teams didn’t score as well.”

Although the new surface at the Hungaroring was praised by the drivers, the virgin tarmac combined with wet weather proved more tricky than expected on Sunday.

“I think the new tarmac made things more difficult in the wet, so I’m really happy to pull out a victory in these conditions.” added Lopez.

Neil Hudson/TouringCarTimes

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