Photo: Citroën Racing

Yvan Muller wins as Loeb charges to second in France

Yvan Muller has won his first race of the 2014 season at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, leading by over 12 seconds in the first race of the day, but all eyes were on his Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb, who charged from the last row of the grid all the way through to second position.

At the start, Muller baulked which allowed the two Hondas of Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz through into first and second, but the four-time champion was able to work his way back ahead, passing Michelisz at the end of the first lap and Tarquini on lap two and began to build his lead.

Sébastien Loeb and José María López were up into the top ten after one lap, with López running wide at Turn 1 and falling behind his French team-mate.

Also having a great start to the race was LADA Sport Lukoil’s Rob Huff, who was up to fifth at the start. Although Huff lost positions as the two Citroëns worked their way past, but Huff made up two more spots in the race as he overtook the Campos Racing Chevrolet of Hugo Valente on lap four and then overtook Zengõ’s Norbert Michelisz on the penultimate lap for fifth again.

Sébastien Loeb’s main battle was with Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, with the two battling for a third of the race, but Loeb was eventually able to slip ahead on lap 14 at the chicane and took second place, but had no time to close down Muller’s lead.

Norbert Michelisz and José María López made light contact when López passed Michelisz on lap 11, with López knocked into a slide but the Argentinian was still able to take the position. The incident is under investigation by the stewards.

Michelisz lost one more spot on the final lap as Campos’ Hugo Valente passed him at the chicane to grab sixth, finishing as the top placed of the Chevrolet drivers.

Race two follows at 17:15 with Mehdi Bennani on pole in his Proteam Racing Honda, with Yvan Muller’s Citroën starting tenth on the reversed grid and the other two Citroën C-Elysées of Sébastien Loeb and José María López again starting from the back of the grid.