Photo: Citroen Racing

José María López takes tenth win of 2014 in Macau

Citroën Total WTCC’s José María López dominated in Macau, winning the Guia Race at his first time at the track ahead of the Zengõ Motorsport Honda of Norbert Michelisz, who moves ahead of Tiago Monteiro up to fourth in the championship standings.

There was a scare for Michelisz on the formation lap as his Honda Civic WTCC failed to get away as the flag was waved, but as he wasn’t passed by the final car he was able to retake his position of fourth on the grid.

At the start, there were no issues this time, as the Hungarian leaped ahead of the two Citroën C-Elysées ahead of him of Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller and up to second place through the first corner. López was untroubled in P1 and began to build a lead, while Muller fell back, and dropped to sixth behind Tiago Monteiro’s Castrol Honda at Lisboa.

On the third lap, Loeb tried to line-up a pass on Michelisz for second at Lisboa, the primary overtaking point on the circuit, but locked up and dropped to sixth behind the two works Hondas of Gabriele Tarquini and Monteiro, as well as Citroën team-mate Muller.

On lap four, two of the Campos Racing TC2T class SEATs ran into trouble, with Henry Kwong contacting the barriers at Moorish Hill, but was able to continue, while William Lok went off at the Melco Hairpin and retired from the race.

Race two pole-sitter Hugo Valente pulled into the pits to retire on lap five with an apparent technical issue. The Frenchman was running in 11th and out of the points at the time.

With López pulling out a five second lead up front, the main battle was behind second placed Michelisz, with Monteiro in particular regularly under threat from Muller and Loeb.

At the end of lap eight, the only major drama of the race occurred, as the ninth placed Proteam Honda of Mehdi Bennani was side-swiped by Henry Kwong’s SEAT as the Moroccan was trying to lap the wild card entry on the main straight. Bennani’s Honda was knocked into the barriers and was out of the race with damage to the front and rear suspension, with a yellow flag in place to prevent passing down the main straight.

The incident is under investigation by the stewards.

Champion elect José María López went on to take the chequered flag and secure his tenth victory of the 2014 season, with Michelisz and Tarquini completing the podium in their Hondas. Franz Engstler, on his 26th Macau appearance, took victory in the TC2T class, finishing 14th overall in the Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320 TC.

The second race of the Macau weekend follows imminently, with Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente set to start from pole position ahead of ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet driver Tom Chilton, and with six time Macau winner Rob Huff third on the grid for Lada.