Thailand WTCC: Lopez crowned champion amid Race 1 carnage
Jose Maria Lopez dominated the first WTCC race at Buriram, Thailand, to clinch his second consecutive world title after Citroën Racing team-mate Yvan Muller was knocked out by an accident in the first lap.
The Argentinian led a Citroen 1-2-3-4, with Sebastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua completing the podium ahead of Yokohama Trophy winner Mehdi Bennani.
It all kicked off at the start as the two Lada Vestas of Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Lapierre were involved in an accident with the lunging ROAL Motorsport car of Tom Coronel, with all three retiring on the spot.
The real carnage, however, was yet to follow as Tiago Monteiro and Hugo Valente made contact, starting an accident which involved Muller and Norbert Michelisz. With Muller ruled out, Lopez was left with the easy task of finishing eighth to win the title.
After the subsequent safety car period, John Filippi retired almost immediately, while Rob Huff overtook Stefano D’Aste for seventh and went on to chase Monteiro in his damaged Honda Civic.
Shortly thereafter, Tom Chilton also slowed down and was forced back to the pits by a technical problem.
Huff soon made a spectacular pass on Monteiro, going for a gap on the Portuguese’s inside at Turn 3 and launching himself into a chase for Gabriele Tarquini and fifth place.
Yet there were no more position changes, although Bennani unsuccessfully attacked Ma for the last podium spot.
Behind the damaged Monteiro, Stefano D’Aste finished eighth ahead of Gregoire Demoustier, who had a troubled start, with local hero Tin Sritrai completing the top ten and taking the final point.
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen||29'10.403|
|3||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen||6.376|
Pietro Casillo / TouringCarTimes
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