Qatar WTCC: Lopez dominates milestone night race

Citroen driver Jose Maria Lopez took a lights-to-flag victory in the WTCC's first-ever night race in Losail, Qatar, leading by almost eight seconds to secure a record-equalling 10th win of the season.

The Argentinian was unchallenged into the first corner and while teammate Sebastien Loeb briefly had the jump on Morocco’s Mehdi Bennani, the French driver then dropped behind both his own team’s driver and the Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente into Turn 2.

Despite Citroen's pace advantage, Loeb found himself stuck behind Valente’s Chevrolet for the remainder of the race.

Gabriele Tarquini spun off on the dust into the first corner and dropped to dead last, but was able to work his way past the Campos Chevrolet of Nasser Al-Attiyah for 17th, which became 16th when Craft-Bamboo Chevrolet driver Gregoire Demoustier pitted with one lap to go.

The other two Citroens of Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller ran in fifth and sixth position throughout the race, with the Chinese driver hounded by the four-time champion throughout, albeit Ma held on.

Norbert Michelisz picked up seventh overall, and third in the independents’ class, but with Mehdi Bennani scoring victory in the independents’ trophy, the gap is down to two points ahead of the second race of the day.

A penalty may follow for Stefano D’Aste in the Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet, who is being investigated for a jump start. The Italian finished tenth overall, provisionally picking up the final point.

In the overall drivers’ standings, Loeb is now 12 points clear of Muller for second position, albeit Muller will start in third for race two.

The second race gets underway imminently, with Campos Racing’s John Filippi starting on pole position ahead of the ROAL Chevrolet of Tom Coronel.

Race results:

Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 24'33.158
Mehdi Bennani Citroen 7.631
Hugo Valente Chevrolet 11.774
Sebastien Loeb Citroen 12.717
Ma Qing Hua Citroen 18.815
Yvan Muller Citroen 19.343
Norbert Michelisz Honda 20.064
Tiago Monteiro Honda 22.700
Nicky Catsburg Lada 24.397
10  Stefano D'Aste Chevrolet 25.426
11  Nicolas Lapierre Lada 31.613
12  Tom Coronel Chevrolet 34.224
13  Rob Huff Lada 34.530
14  Tom Chilton Chevrolet 35.129
15  John Filippi Chevrolet 36.178
16  Gabriele Tarquini Honda 37.292
17  Nasser Al-Attiyah Chevrolet 39.646
18  Gregoire Demoustier Chevrolet 1 Lap

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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About this article
Series WTCC
Event Losail
Track Losail International Circuit
Drivers Jose Maria Lopez , Mehdi Bennani , Hugo Valente
Teams Citroën World Touring Car team
Article type Breaking news