The New Kings of the Ring
The FIA WTCC’s visit to the Nürburgring was expected to be one of the highlights of the season, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In race one, José María López, Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller scored a 1-2-3 in their Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs.
Despite the reverse grid, Yvan Muller and José María López also claimed the top two places in race two to round off a highly successful outing for Citroën.
The temperature was close to freezing when the cars took to the track for their short early-morning warm-up session. This final practice allowed the drivers to test out their race setup, designed to maximise their chances of overtaking.
Race one began without incident for José María López, who was leading into the first corner. His teammates Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller also made perfect starts from third and sixth on the grid. From the very early stages of the race, Pechito attacked hard to put himself out of reach of the chasing pack. In control throughout the three laps, the Argentine driver was not put off his stride by a few drops of rain falling on his windscreen. The reigning World Champion was once again the first to cross the finishing line, notching up his fourth win in as many meetings. Ma Qing Hua started from fifth, and finished fifth, unable to find a way past Norbert Michelisz.
With light rain falling on various parts of the circuit, the track was deemed to be wet for race two. Nevertheless, all the drivers opted to stick with their slicks. When the lights went out, Yvan Muller once again made an inspired start. The man from Alsace soon found himself in second place between Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini. Behind Tom Coronel, Mehdi Bennani led a chasing pack of Citroëns comprising Ma Qing Hua, José María López and Sébastien Loeb.
At the end of lap one, Yvan Muller used Tiago Monteiro’s slipstream to propel himself into the lead. Tom Coronel also succumbed to the pressure from the drivers on his tail and was passed by Bennani, Qing Hua, López and finally Loeb. The same pack reassembled over the course of lap two. Locked in a fierce battle, Qing Hua and López both overtook Bennani. One more lap remained to determine which of these talented drivers would emerge on top.
Ma Qing Hua felt the pressure and found himself crashing hard into the safety barrier. López and the others managed to find their way through the debris without losing touch with the leading trio. Around the Karussel, the pack re-formed once more, and there was still everything to play for going into the final straight.
Yvan Muller put himself out of reach, while José María López overcame first Gabriele Tarquini and then Tiago Monteiro to snatch second place. The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs achieved a terrific one-two, with Sébastien Loeb claiming fifth place.