Photo: WTCC Media

José María López leads Citroën 1-2-3 at the Nürburgring

Citroën Racing’s José María López took a lights to flag victory at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, after the independent front-runners of Hugo Valente and Norbert Michelisz made contact at the start of the race from second and fourth on the grid.

Campos Racing Chevrolet driver Valente bogged down at the start from second of the grid, moving to cover Michelisz’s Zengő Motorsport Honda, with the two making light contact, allowing Sébastien Loeb straight through to second and a fast-starting Yvan Muller up to third from sixth on the grid.

Michelisz settled into second while Valente dropped outside of the top ten at the start following contact with Ma Qing Hua’s Citroën into Turn 2, and then began his charge back through the field.

Tom Coronel was caught up in an accident at the first corner in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet and chose to pit and the end of the Grand Prix loop on the first lap, while Rob Huff’s Ladas ran into trouble on the first lap, with the British driver retiring at the end of the loop as well with damaged suspension.

There were no problems for new team-mate Jaap van Lagen however, who began to press forward in his Vesta, passing Gregoire Demoustier’s Craft-Bamboo Chevrolet on the first lap, and then John Filippi’s Campos Chevrolet on lap two.

Valente was making progress as well, passing Tiago Monteiro’s Honda with ease on the back straight between Turns 62 and 63, but the nimble Honda was able to get back ahead of the Grand Prix loop. Valente then cut the corner and spun on the loop, becoming the only driver to crash out of the race at the start of lap two.

For the last half of the race all eyes were on the Münnich Motorspot Chevrolet of Sabine Schmitz, at the time 11th but was promoted to tenth when Monteiro pulled into the pits and retired at the end of the second lap. Schmitz was having to defend against fellow Nordschleife ‘ringer’ van Lagen throughout the last two laps, with the German driver able to block the Dutchman at every turn.

López went on to take a historic first win at the Nürburging by 4.9 seconds ahead of Loeb with Muller third, with López now extending his points lead over Loeb to 42 points.

Race two follows with Honda’s Tiago Monteiro due to start from pole position ahead of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel, with López starting tenth on the grid.