Photo: Citroën Racing

Yvan Muller leaps to second in the standings with win in Hungary

Citroën Total WTCC’s Yvan Muller has moved ahead of team-mate Sébastien Loeb and has closed in on José Maríá López with victory in race one at the Hungaroroing, with Honda’s Tiago Monteiro taking a second consecutive podium finish with third.

Muller and López both got away well at the start, but the third placed Citroën of Sébastien Loeb had an awful start, and the nine-time World Rally champion was down to seventh position by the end of the lap.

Mehdi Bennani’s Proteam Honda and the Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet both had slow getaways as well, though Bennani had a cautious Tom Coronel right behind him who ensured their was no contact.

The only Hungarian on the grid though had a terrific start, passing five cars and was up to sixth behind Bennani’s Honda. Despite this, the car’s pace was as good as Gabriele Tarquini and Mehdi Bennani’s ahead of him, and the front running cars all spread out or ran together with minimal opportunities to pass.

The fights were further down the order though, with Tom Coronel up ahead of his ROAL Motorsport team-mate Tom Chilton. Coronel was under threat from Chilton twice into Turn 1, but with a loose bonnet catch on the left-hand side, Chilton was given a mechanical black flag and dropped to the back of the field. He would later recover to finish 14th, passing the TC2T class cars.

Gianni Morbidelli was recovering from his bad start in the Münnich Chevrolet Cruze, sneaking ahead of the Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente and Rob Huff’s Lada, who were embroiled in a battle together for most of the race, and then passing James Thompson’s Lada Granta to secure ninth.

Thompson dropped three positions in a lap with Huff, Valente and Dusan Borkovic all getting ahead of him on lap eight. A lap later, a mistake from Huff at Turn 3 allowed Valente through and into the final points paying position, but the British driver was able to hold off Borkovic’s Cruze to finish 11th.

Up front, Muller edged away from López, building as much as a two second lead, as the two drivers continued to pull away from Tiago Monteiro. At the flag, Muller crossed the line to take his second win of 2014, with López 1.2 second behind and Tiago Monteiro almost nine seconds down.

Yvan Muller now moves to second in the drivers’ standings on 95 points, ahead of Sébastien Loeb, while José María López continues to lead on 107.

In the TC2T class, the battle was between the two Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMWs throughout the race, with Engstler having passed the class polesitter Pasquale Di Sabatino at the start. A lunge from Di Sabatino down the inside on lap 12 however saw the Italian take his first win in the Yokohama Trophy, and the first time Engstler hasn’t won in the class this season.

The next race follows with Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente on pole ahead of Münnich’s Gianni Morbidelli, with the three Citroëns starting eighth, ninth and tenth.