Photo: Citroën Racing

José María López leads Citroën 1-2-3 in Marrakech

José María López has won the first round of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship season in Marrakech, leading team-mates Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller with a lights to flag victory at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan.

All three Citroëns were up to the top three positions by the first corner, with Yvan Muller passing the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet of Tom Chilton at the start.

Further down the order, René Münnich made a terrible start from sixth. The German moved before the lights went out at the new standing start, and then bogged down, followed by a mistake at the chicane and dropped to 18th, later serving a jump start penalty and retiring in the pits early.

Honda driver Tiago Monteiro has jumped up to fifth ahead of Campos Racing’s Dusan Borkovic at the start, while Borkovic’s Campos team-mate had also made a good start and was up to ninth at the end of the first lap.

Valente ran into the back of Mehdi Bennani’s Honda at the end of the first lap, dislodging it and leaving it on the circuit for which he received and black and white bad sportsmanship warning flag.

At the end of lap four, it was Monteiro’s turn to lose the rear bumper, as Borkovic made a dive down the inside at the final corner and pushed the Portuguese driver wide. Monteiro was briefly threatened by the Zengo Motorsport Honda of Norbert Michelisz, but was able to rebuild a gap over the next few laps.

Rob Huff’s Lada pulled into the pits to retire on lap six, with both ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel and Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli also coming into the pits a few laps later with technical issues from 11th and 12th positions, though Morbidelli was able to rejoin the track and finished 15th, two laps down.

On the penultimate lap, Michelisz lost pace and was passed by both Proteam Honda’s Mehdi Bennani and the Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente.

At the front, the three Citroëns controlled the pace, clearly slowing down in the final few laps with López leading a formation finish for the French manfucturer on their WTCC debut.

The next race follows shortly with Tom Coronel starting in pole position in the ROAL Chevrolet ahead of local star Mehdi Bennani’s Honda.