Photo: WTCC Media

José María López joins Muller and Loeb at Citroën

30-year-old José María López will race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for the 2014 season, joining four-time champion Yvan Muller and nine-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb at Citroën Racing, as the French marque makes its debut in the WTCC.

López has been racing in the national championships of Argentina in recent years since leaving the European racing scene, competing in the Turismo Carretera, the Top Race V6 series and the (Super) TC 2000 Championships.

López won the Argentinian Top Race V6 series in 2009, and also won the country’s top tier for modern touring cars, the Super TC 2000 Championship, claiming the titles in 2008 and 2009 with Honda, and in 2012 with the PSG16 Team while driving a Ford Focus.

López finished fifth in this year’s Super TC 2000 Championship while driving for PSG16, now running Fiats, but had already announced his departure from the series and will instead compete only in the Turismo Carretera stock car series next season when his new WTCC duties permit him.

In 2013, López became the second Argentinian driver to take part in a WTCC race. López filled in for Fredy Barth at Wiechers-Sport for his home race at Termas de Río Hondo, on the Championship’s first visit to the country, driving the German team’s unfancied BMW 320 TC, which had been struggling against the newer and faster Chevrolets and Hondas all season.

López impressed from the off, running in the top ten throughout both of the free practice sessions and setting the fastest time in the warm-up. He finished in fifth position in the first race and won only his second ever career race from pole position, finishing ahead of 2009 champion Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda Civic.

Following low-key tests at Valencia and Monza in the prototype of Citroën’s new C-Elysée World Touring Car, López has been signed to join the French duo of Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller, as the WTCC transitions to new technical regulations for 2014, with Citroën looking set to compete for the title in their first season against rival manufacturers Honda and Lada.