Photo: Citroën Racing

José María López leads from lights-to-flag in Argentina

Citroën’s José María López took a lights-to-flag victory in the first race of the day at Termas de Río Hondo, never effectively challenged from the start and extends his points lead over Yvan Muller to 50 points. The Citroën’s closest challenger was that of Norbert Michelisz, with the Hungarian bravely passing the two Citroëns of Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb at the start for second.

Michelisz found himself ahead of the two C-Elysées after the first corner, with the works Honda of Tiago Monteiro also making a strong start and getting past them down the inside to join Michelisz in third, but the Portuguese driver was unable to hold them off for long, with Yvan Muller swiftly moving back ahead further on the lap, while Loeb and Monteiro battled side-by-side for a few corners before Loeb cut off Monteiro’s nose before the next left hand turn to secure fourth.

Rob Huff had also had a strong start in the Lada Granta 1.6T and was up to seventh at the start, ahead of the factory Honda of Gabriele Tarquini, and the two drivers would battle throughout the race, with Huff holding the upper hand to take his best result since Paul Ricard in April.

There was an incident between Mikhail Kozlovskiy’s Lada and Hugo Valente’s Campos Chevrolet, with Kozlovskiy contacting the right-rear of the French driver’s Chevrolet. Valente pulled into the pits to have his car checked over, with the Frenchman due to start in second position in the next race.

Valente’s team-mate Dusan Borkovic had worked his way up to 11th and was challenging Tom Coronel’s ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet for tenth, but a mistake saw him fall back to 13th behind James Thompson’s Lada and Gianni Morbidelli’s Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet. The Serbian would later suffer a left-rear puncture and pull into the pits.

Up front, López took the chequered flag unchallenged, with Michelisz crossing the line 2.5 seconds behind with Yvan Muller closing in on him during the final laps, but only slightly.

On the final lap, Tom Coronel ran wide in the final sequence of corners, allowing two-time British Touring Car champion James Thompson the chance to dive around the outside and grab the final points paying position, his third points finish of the season.

The second race follows imminently, with the three Citroëns starting eighth, ninth and tenth on the reversed grid, and Rob Huff starting from pole for Lada with the Chevrolet of Hugo Valente alongside.