Sébastien Loeb wins chaotic second race in Morocco
Citroën Total WTCC driver Sébastien Loeb led a 1-2 for the team in the second race at Morocco, which was incident filled from the start, with pole-sitter Tom Coronel eliminated, taking with him reigning champion Yvan Muller.
The start of the race had been initially delayed as a number of cars were out of position in the final places, after the gap of Rob Huff’s Lada hadn’t been closed up after the team had requested parc ferme neutralisation to try and get the car out for race two after his race one retirement.
When the error was resolved, the race began, but there was disaster straight away as pole-sitter Tom Coronel and second placed Mehdi Bennnai came together, with Coronel trying to close the door on the Moroccan’s Honda at the start, but Bennani held firm and made repeated contact with the rear-quarter or Coronel’s car, spinning it into the wall, which careered back across the track and into Yvan Muller’s Citroën C-Elysée, eliminating both cars from the race.
The race was red flagged and began again behind the safety car with local hero Mehdi Bennani now the race leader ahead of the Honda of Tiago Monteiro and Sébastien Loeb’s Citroën.
Loeb blasted past Monteiro’s Honda when the safety car came in and was on Bennani’s tail, overtaking the Moroccan on the following lap despite the fact that Bennani had been ordered to serve a drive-through penalty for the incident with Coronel at the start.
The other Citroën of José María López was also on a charge, passing the two Chevrolets of Dusan Borkovic and Tom Chilton in one lap, and then passed both Hugo Valente’s Campos Chevrolet and Tiago Monteiro’s Honda to move up to second behind his team-mate.
On lap eight, Valente passed Monteiro just before the safety car came out when Dusan Borkovic’s Chevrolet stopped on the main straight with smoke pouring out of it.
At the restart, all eyes were on Mehdi Bennani who was tearing through the field, passing Gianni Morbidelli, Mikhail Kozlovskiy and Tom Chilton and was lining up the Honda of Monteiro, until the Portuguese driver slowed with two laps to go.
Things looked set to finish as it was there, but Chilton caught back up to Bennani, passing him through the chicane before Bennani was able to drag back past him on the straight. At the final corner of the final lap, the two were involved in one last drag race, with Chilton coming out on top, claiming fourth by just 0.026 seconds.
Sébastien Loeb was unchallenged up front, winning his first WTCC race ahead of José María López, who leaves Morocco as the leader of the drivers’ standings on 48 points, just one point ahead of Loeb.
The next round is at the Paul Ricard circuit in France next weekend.