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.
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:
|2||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||+0.319|
Pietro Casillo / TouringCarTimes
Citroën stays ahead in Marrakech
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