Muller pips Lopez in race two Nordschleife epic
Yvan Muller just held off his charging Citroen teammate Jose Maria Lopez at the finish at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, after they overcame the Honda challenge.
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Muller made a strong start from fifth on the grid in his C-Elysee and was up to third at the first corner, soon passing Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda through Turn 3 and was then up to second position behind the other Honda of Tiago Monteiro.
The Portuguese driver was unable to defend against Muller on the straight at the end of the first lap, with the Frenchman passing the Honda with relative ease with a notable difference in straight-line performance.
Lopez was making his charge from tenth on the grid, and was up to sixth by the end of the first lap.
The main straight proved to be where the main moves by the Citroens were in the second race, with Ma Qing Hua passing Mehdi Benanni’s privateer C-Elysee there on lap two, grabbing fourth position, with Lopez getting ahead of Bennani on the Grand Prix loop.
This set things up for a dramatic final lap, as Ma spun out of fourth at Turn 24 and into retirement as he twice slammed the barriers, with Lopez now promoted to fourth.
Despite being forced to avoid his spinning teammate, the reigning champion then closed down the top trio, with Muller still only just ahead of the Castrol Honda pairing of Monteiro and Tarquini.
Lopez tailed Tarquini through the last part of the Norsdschleife, making his move on the Dottinger Hohe straight, towing past first Tarquini and then Monteiro to take second place, and crossing the line 0.173s behind his team-mate.
Behind the Hondas, Sebastien Loeb finished fifth with Bennani demoted to sixth on the last lap, with Rob Huff securing seventh for Lada from 13th on the grid.
Tom Coronel was eighth in the ROAL Chevrolet, Jaap van Lagen picking up points on his WTCC return with ninth in the second Lada Vesta, and John Filippi completing the top ten for Campos Racing.
Sabine Schmitz followed up her race one points finish with 11th in race two, and Gregoire Demoustier the only other classified finished in 12th.
Lopez’s second place means the Argentinian extend his points lead to 50 over Loeb, while Muller’s win means he’s now just one point behind Loeb in third, heading to the next round of the WTCC in three weeks’ time at Moscow Raceway.
Race two results:
|2||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||0.173|
|9||Jaap van Lagen||Lada||10.000|
|Ret||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen||-|
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes
Lopez leads Citroen 1-2-3 at the Nordschleife
Honda returns to the podium with Tiago Monteiro at Nürburgring