Photo: Citroën Racing

Sébastien Loeb wins as Citroën turn reversed grid around into another 1-2-3

Citroën Racing took another podium lockout at the Slovakiaring, as drivers Sébastien Loeb, José María López and Yvan Muller charged through from eighth, ninth and tenth on the grid to be in the top three spots after just four laps in race two, with Loeb crossing the line first to take his fourth career WTCC victory.

The start almost saw disaster, as Ma Qing Hua’s Citroën stalled from fourth on the grid for the second consecutive race. Lada’s Nicky Catsburg was right behind and was balked by the stalled Citroën, while Néstor Girolami came across Ma’s car unsighted and narrowly avoided the back of his car, taking to the grass in avoidance.

Into the first corner, Gabriele Tarquini took the lead from second on the grid in his Honda Civic, but the other three Citroëns of Sébastien Loeb, José María López and Yvan Muller had all made brilliant starts from their mid-field grid positions, and were second, third and fourth heading out of the first sector after manoeuvering past pole-sitter Jaap van Lagen’s Lada.

Tarquini fought hard to defend against the three Citroëns, but given their pace, it was delaying the inevitable with Loeb taking the lad on lap two and López and Muller moving ahead of the Italian both at the same time a lap later

The fourth factory Citroën of Ma Qing Hua was again putting on a recovery performance after his poor start, but this was thwarted by a drive-through penalty for a false start, and the Chinese driver would later go on to retire.

The only key incident of the race was contact between the two Hondas of Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro as they fought for 11th. Monteiro dived down the inside of the Hungarian, apparently assuming the door was open and the two made contact, but lost no positions. The incident is under investigation by the stewards.

The two Ladas of Rob Huff and Nicky Catsburg retired in the pits with three laps to go which meant Jaap van Lagen was the only driver to finish for the Russian marque in sixth, finishing behind the Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente who won the independents’ classification for the second consecutive race.

Independent rival Tom Chilton retired with a puncture at Turn 13 with one lap to go, while Loeb relaxed a little on the final lap, allowing his almost five second lead to drop to three over his battling team-mates López and Muller.

With López finishing second, the Argentinian increases the gap to team-mate Muller to 30 points heading to next week’s race at Paul Ricard, while Sébastien Loeb is now just 43 points behind as Citroën head to their home circuit.