MULLER, LÓPEZ AND LOEB STAR AT SPA
The final European round of this year’s World Touring Car Championship, held at Spa-Francorchamps, was dominated by Citroën Racing.
The sun was shining brightly for today’s action at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Encouraged by the blue sky, a large crowd flocked into the paddock and stands of the legendary Belgian venue.
Having qualified in the top three positions, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and José-María López had an excellent chance of success in race 1. When the red lights went out, the three C-Elysée WTCCs began well, reaching the La Source hairpin in the same order in which they started.
José-María López made his first move on Sébastien Loeb in just the second lap. The nine-time World Rally Champion held him off with authority, but their tussle allowed Yvan Muller to open up something of a lead. Far from losing heart, Pechito tried to get past Seb on several more occasions, but each time to no avail!
By the halfway mark, the gap between Yvan Muller and his two teammates had widened irretrievably. Still not resigned to finishing third, López saved his tyres for one last attack, which he sprang in the very last lap of the race! Quicker at the Raidillon, the Argentine driver surprised Loeb at the Les Combes turn.
The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs, then, notched up their second 1-2-3 of the season! In the fourth Citroën car, Ma Qing Hua crossed the finish line in eleventh place, just outside the points, having had to cope with a loose windscreen throughout the second part of the race.
While the first race was lively, the second promised to provide an even greater spectacle, with the top ten from qualifying starting in reverse order on the grid. José-María López started from eighth position, sandwiched between Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller. Ma Qing Hua once again set off from the seventh row.
Despite a turbulent first few turns, there were no casualties in the pack. At the end of lap 1, Tom Coronel was leading from Monteiro, Chilton, Bennani, Tarquini, López, Muller, Valente and Loeb. Having adopted a streamlined aerodynamic setup to boost his speed, José-María López made his intentions clear from the off. Already fourth by the time the cars passed the pits for the second time, he overtook Chilton and Monteiro to move up into second place on lap 5. Two laps later, he went past the leader just before the Raidillo
Yvan Muller was no slouch either, exhibiting a good deal of panache as he climbed into second spot with three laps to go. After losing a little time trying to find a way past Valente, Sébastien Loeb hauled himself into the top 5. Ma Qing Hua, meanwhile, suffered engine problems and was forced to abandon the race after four laps.
With a 1-2-3 in qualifying, another in race 1, and first and second spots in race 2, Citroën Racing achieved a near perfect points haul to put towards their Teams World Championship tally. Their lead over the second-placed team now
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: DRIVER STANDINGS
1. José-María López: 255 points
2. Yvan Muller: 216 pts
3. Sébastien Loeb: 190 pts
4. Tiago Monteiro: 125 pts
5. Gabriele Tarquini: 105 pts
12. Ma Qing Hua: 33 pts
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: MANUFACTURER STANDINGS
1. Citroën Total: 597 points
2. Honda: 392 pts
3. Lada: 202 pts