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201504 Nov

Jose-Team-Citreon

 

By claiming pole position and victory in race one, Jose Maria Lopez secured his second successive FIA World Touring Car Championship title with the Citroen Total team.

 

The Argentine driver was joined on the podium by his teammates Sebastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua, who also took second and third positions in race two. The Citroen C-Elysee WTCCs had started the day in style by achieving the unprecedented feat of occupying the top five places in qualifying. The manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles may be sewn up, but Citroen is keeping up the suspense: Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb are now separated by just two points and will battle it out for the runner-up spot in Qatar.

 

With no real hierarchy having emerged after Saturday’s free practice sessions, the drivers turned up for qualifying needing to lay their cards on the table. Drawing on what they had learned the previous day, the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC drivers took the top five positions in Q3 for the first time. For the sixth time this season, Jose Maria Lopez was the quickest man on track, followed by Sebastien Loeb, Yvan Muller, Ma Qing Hua and Mehdi Bennani in that order.

 

By late afternoon, the main stand of the Chang International Circuit was packed as the cars lined up on the starting grid. The weather conditions were extreme, with temperatures of 33°C, 60 percent humidity, and a track temperature of 45°C.

 

When the lights went out, Jose Maria Lopez got off to a perfect start. He reached the first turn in the lead, followed by Sebastien Loeb, with Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller neck-and-neck behind them. Muller, as it turned out, would not make it much further. After being run into by two other drivers, he was forced to return to the pits with a broken rear-end assembly. Mehdi Bennani took advantage of this to move up into third.

 

Once the safety car had been and gone, Ma Qing Hua got the better of the Moroccan driver, and there would be no further changes to the top four before the finish. Despite coming under constant pressure from Sebastien Loeb, Jose Maria Lopez clinched his ninth race win of the season. In doing so, he scored the points he needed to secure a second consecutive FIA World Touring Car Championship title.

 

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