Photo: WTCC Media

Citroën elated with Manufacturers’ crown on debut

Citroën took the Manufacturers’ title at the end of Race 1 in Shanghai, after scoring a 1-2-3-4 led by José María López. The French team won the championship with five races to go, in their dominant first season in the World Touring Car Championship.

The day was not completely smooth however, as after the first race, drama hit the team when multiple World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb outbraked himself and hit team-mate Yvan Muller, leading to the 2013 champion’s retirement. Loeb was given a post-race penalty for the incident, which left him out of the points for the second race. He is also mathematically out of contention, leaving the title a matter between López and Muller.

Despite feeling the pressure of the title race entering its final phase, the Argentinian was able to leave the track with a win and a podium finish, and now enjoys a 93-points advantage over Muller with 110 still up for grabs:“This was a very important weekend for me and I must say I was more nervous than usual”, admitted López. “It’s fantastic to secure the Manufacturers’ title with Citroën Racing. I want to congratulate and thank them all. I believe more than ever that motor racing is a team sport, even if the drivers tend to get most of the glory.

It wasn’t easy to win this seventh race, because Ma Qing Hua was always behind me, pushing. That just goes to show that his win in Moscow wasn‘t down to luck!”

Muller praised the team’s results:“Personally speaking, it hasn’t been my best weekend. Nor has it been my best season! But I’m pleased with the team result. We began working together fifteen months ago and it’s a great achievement to win the title. I’m pleased for the mechanics, the engineers and everybody involved.”

Local hero Ma Qing Hua scored a strong second place in Race 1, putting pressure on the championship leader for most of the race, and that result in his home track left him even happier than after his win in Moscow earlier this year:“First of all, I’d like to say thank you and well done to Citroën Total. Like this weekend, the team has had a very successful season.

The guys have done everything they could to make up for my lack of track time and it’s motivating to feel so supported. Finishing second in race 1, so close to the winner, was a good result. I think that it’s worth even more than my win in Moscow.”

Former rally star Sébastien Loeb is now out of the title race but still praised the team’s result in the first race. He also took the blame for the accident with team-mate Yvan Muller:“The first race was exciting. I mistimed my start, but I managed to fight with the others and get past them to climb back up to fourth place. I think we’ll all remember this one-two-three-four finish as a great moment!

In the second race, I was little bit too optimistic on braking and I accidentally ran into Yvan. I’m really sorry for him and it’s fair enough that I was given a penalty for that. But the big story of the day is the title for the team!”

Team principal Yves Matton was obviously very happy with the Manufacturers’ crown the team has just won, and he thanked Yvan Muller in particular for his work:”With a well-deigned car and a set of fantastic drivers, we have obtained some truly exceptional results. I would especially like to thank Yvan Muller, for his involvement with us. It was very emotional to record a 1-2-3-4 in China, and to see Ma Qing Hua finish on the podium,” said Matton.

The team started developing the Citroën C-Elysée eighteen months ago, and won both titles at their first shot.