Podium spots for López and Muller in Marrakech
With podium finishes in the first race, José María López and Yvan Muller will leave Morocco feeling they have done their job.
On a circuit where overtaking is virtually impossible, the Citroën Total team drivers nevertheless managed to improve on their starting positions. With podium finishes in the first race, José María López and Yvan Muller will leave Morocco feeling they have done their job. With a third of the season complete, Citroën and López maintain their leads in the FIA World Touring Car Championship standings.
In the opening race, Yvan Muller was the best placed Citroën driver on the reverse staring grid, setting off from fifth. The four-time World Champion got an excellent start, as did Pechito López, who found himself up alongside his teammate. The two C-Elysée WTCCs were neck and neck until the Argentine got the better of the exchange.
The first lap saw James Thompson pushed off the track by Hugo Valente, with Nick Catsburg also going straight on at a bend. Valente took the lead ahead of Coronel, López, Muller and Monteiro. Valente was then handed a drive-through and his rivals all moved up a place.
José María López made several attempts to get past Tom Coronel, who held him off in a car some 80 kg lighter. The top 10 remained unchanged for the last 15 laps, proving that it is impossible to overtake in normal circumstances on this new Marrakech circuit.
In the late afternoon, the drivers lined up on the grid for the main race. This time, José María López and Yvan Muller started from fourth and fifth respectively. The few drops of rain that had fallen during the preparation of the cars turned into a shower, leading all the competitors to put on their rain tyres.
When the lights went out, Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz were the first men to turn, with Tiago Monteiro and José María López neck and neck behind them. Pechito managed to snatch third position, while Yvan Muller completed the leading pack.
On lap 5, Pechito made a rare error. His wheels locked on turn number 10, forcing him to let Tiago Monteiro slip past. The rest of the race was a fairly monotonous procession, with the top 10 again remaining unchanged for 12 laps.
This weekend’s results extend José María López’s World Championship lead by two points. Yvan is in sixth spot, four points short of the top five. In the Manufacturers’ standings, Citroën continues to lead the way, with a 39-point advantage over its nearest rival.
What they had to say
Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “I am satisfied with the team’s overall results. We might not have won, but this is only the third time that has happened to us in twenty-eight FIA WTCC meetings. Thanks to solid races from José María López and Yvan Muller, we have conceded only one point in the Manufacturers’ World Championship and we still have a healthy lead. Pechito also strengthened his position in the Drivers’ standings. We leave this circuit sorry that there was not more of a spectacle for the Moroccan crowd and delighted that we will soon be tackling the biggest challenge of the year, the Nürburgring and the Nordschleife.”
José María López: “My second place in the opening race was an excellent result given my grid position. The first lap was like a street fight. Thereafter, I knew overtaking would be impossible. I stayed close so as to be ready to seize the slightest opportunity, but I had to manage the tyres and the brakes too. In the main race, I managed to get the better of Tiago, but then it was my turn to make a mistake. Still, I’m satisfied with my weekend. The aim was to stretch my lead at the top of the World Championship, and I have done that. We mustn’t relax, as our rivals have never been closer to us.”
Yvan Muller: “I’m a little surprised with my podium finish in the opening race. I didn’t think there would be so many incidents in the first lap, but that’s what enabled me to climb from fifth to third. However, it was impossible to overtake after that, even if you were much quicker than the car in front. The main race was very tricky in the rain. With the different road surfaces and the painted sections, the track was extremely slippery. I even though I was losing a wheel when my car skidded on a straight section! It’s not been an exceptional weekend, but it has been a positive one for me and for the team.”
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