Yvan Muller picks up podium place in rainy Russia
Yvan Muller was the best-performing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, finishing third in the opening race.
Like yesterday’s qualifying, the FIA WTCC races at Moscow Raceway were rain-affected. Yvan Muller was the best-performing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, finishing third in the opening race. Despite a winless weekend, Citroën and José María López have extended their respective leads in the Manufacturers’ and Drivers World Championships.
The skies looked threatening, but the Moscow Raceway track was totally dry when the cars lined up on the starting grid for the opening race. During the warm-up lap, there was a downpour over the circuit, forcing the race officials to delay the start. All the drivers put on their rain tyres, while the engineers tinkered with their cars’ setups.
A good start
When the lights went out, Tiago Monteiro took the lead, ahead of Yvan Muller, who got a good start from the second row, and Mehdi Bennani. José María López also found a way through the pack to climb to fourth.
After a few turns, Yvan Muller was in front. Monteiro was unable to hold off Bennani and López, and the three Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs found themselves out in front!
That situation was not to last, however. Gabriele Tarquini snatched third place, not without clipping José María López’s car in the process. Nick Catsburg soon followed suit, while Tarquini passed Bennani and was gaining ground on Muller.
After five laps, he took the lead and Yvan soon found himself under pressure from Catsburg. Struggling with the conditions, Mehdi Bennani lost ground, enabling Pechito López to climb back into fourth.
A little after the halfway mark, Catsburg moved into second after passing Muller. López also conceded fourth spot to Valente.
The Citroën Total drivers then held firm until the chequered flag to cling on to their places. Yvan Muller’s podium finish was the best result possible in the circumstances.
During the short break before the main race, the Russian track was once again soaked by a shower. Rain tyres were a must.
Once again, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs started strongly
Yvan Muller and José María López went into the first bend in sixth and seventh. Very quickly, however, they lost ground on their competitors, plagued by a total lack of grip. After three laps, López, Bennani and Muller lay in seventh, eighth and tenth respectively.
As the race went on, the track dried out, though it was still not possible to change to slicks. The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs therefore focused on not making any mistakes to ensure they secured the best results possible.
José María López eventually took the points for eighth place. Mehdi Bennani finished tenth, ahead of Yvan Muller, who ended up just out of the points.
Despite a disappointing weekend, Citroën maintains a healthy 172-point lead in the World Championship. In the Driver standings, José María López has extended his advantage, now lying 105 points clear of Mehdi Bennani and Tiago Monteiro. Yvan Muller is in fifth spot, just nine points adrift of the two second-placed drivers. The points tallies have been revised after Honda’s exclusion from the Marrakech meeting was confirmed.
What they had to say
Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “It is hard to find positives in such a difficult weekend. The drivers gave their all in trying circumstances and Yvan must be congratulated on his podium finish. It is tough to pinpoint any one reason for our lack of success: the 80kg ballast, the weather conditions, the tyres, the circuit itself… It’s probably down to a combination of all of those things, and we are going to have to work to understand what went wrong. Well done to the Lada team for their two one-two finishes, in any case. We know how it feels to achieve such results, particularly on home soil!”
José María López: “These two races were really tough. The grip deteriorated lap after lap and I wasn’t able to hold our rivals at bay. These things happen. We just need to understand why. At the same time, it has not been a bad weekend, as I have widened the gap at the top of the World Championship! I can’t wait to get to Vila Real. It’s a circuit I’m very fond of and I hope to repeat last year’s victory there.”
Yvan Muller: “Congratulations to the winners. They deserve this result. I got a good start in the opening race, which allowed me to take the lead for the first time this season. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to be able to hold off Gabriele and Nick. I am happy to be on the podium. It’s not the kind of result you dream about, but I’ll take it, given the circumstances. We are going to work hard to draw the necessary conclusions. We cannot put our lack of success down to a single factor.”
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