Morocco WTCC: Coronel holds off Lopez to win amid carnage

ROAL Motorsport's Tom Coronel took a thrilling victory in the opening race at Marrakech, holding off a charging Jose Maria Lopez.

Morocco WTCC: Coronel holds off Lopez to win amid carnage
Tom Coronel, Roal Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Tom Coronel, Roal Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Rob Huff, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Tom Coronel, Roal Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
Tom Coronel, Roal Motorsport, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Yvan Muller, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Nicky Catsburg, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta

At the start James Thompson retained his lead followed by Hugo Valente and Coronel, as Thed Bjork struggled, getting in the way of Yvan Muller.

A great getaway from Citroen's Lopez saw the championship leader climb up to fourth, and soon became third when Valente ran in the back of Thompson's Chevrolet, effectively taking the Brit out of the race.

It was followed by a contact between Lada's Nicky Catsburg and Bjork, which dropped both the drivers down the order.

Valente was awarded a drive through penalty after his contact with Thompson, which meant Coronel inherited the lead ahead of Lopez and Muller, with the three Hondas following as Tiago Monteiro led Norbert Michelisz and Rob Huff.

Gabriele Tarquini was seventh for Lada, while Tom Chilton was under pressure from fellow Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Mehdi Bennani, as Fredrik Ekblom occupied the final top ten spot for Polestar Cyan Racing.

The race was tense from then on, with Coronel having to resist Lopez's attacks as the Argentinian tried to put pressure on the experienced Dutchman at almost every corner, but Coronel managed to hold on.

On lap 10 the Citroen driver tried a more decisive attack at Turn 1, but went wide and subsequently lost ground.

Coronel was able to have some breathing space after that, but not for long, as Lopez was trailing him again withing four laps.

Despite a huge amount of pressure and even a small contact at the hairpin the Dutchman managed to resist and claimed a well-deserved win ahead of Lopez.

Muller withstood Monteiro's pressure to complete a Citroen 2-3 ahead of the Honda drivers, with Monteiro finishing fourth just ahead of Michelisz and Huff.

Tarquini finished a rather lonely seventh for Lada, with Chilton eighth and second in the Independents' trophy ahead of Bennani.

Ekblom completed the top ten ahead of Volvo teammate Bjork, who made a great recovery from last to eleventh but still scored no points.

Opening race results:

PosDriverCarTime/Gap
1 NetherlandsTom Coronel  Chevrolet 29:30.458
2 ArgentinaJose Maria Lopez  Citroen +0.319
3 FranceYvan Muller  Citroen +2.185
4 PortugalTiago Monteiro  Honda +2.492
5 HungaryNorbert Michelisz  Honda +3.770
6 United KingdomRob Huff  Honda +4.433
7 ItalyGabriele Tarquini  Lada +9.517
8 United KingdomTom Chilton  Citroen +11.403
9 MoroccoMehdi Bennani  Citroen +12.294
10 SwedenFredrik Ekblom  Volvo +16.540
11 SwedenThed Björk  Volvo +22.376
12 FranceGrégoire Demoustier  Citroen +31.551
13 HungaryFerenc Ficza  Honda +44.659
R John Filippi  Chevrolet  
R Hugo Valente  Lada  
R Nicky Catsburg  Lada  
R  James Thompson  Chevrolet  

Pietro Casillo / TouringCarTimes

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Citroën stays ahead in Marrakech
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