Photo: Citroën Racing

Yvan Muller leads Citroën podium lockout at the Slovakiaring

Yvan Muller took his fourth win of the 2015 World Touring Car Championship season at the Slovkiaring, leading a perfect 1-2-3 for Citroën, and in doing so closes the points gap to team-mate José María López to 27 in a race which saw an abnormally high level of attrition.

The first retirement was effectively Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Grégoire Demoustier. The Frenchman’s car had been repaired overnight after a crash in Free Practice 2, but a last minute engine problem saw him unable to start from his 19th position on the grid and from the pit lane, only to retire one lap in to the race.

At the start, the three Citroëns bolted away into Turn 1 and were several car lengths ahead of Rob Huff’s Lada and Hugo Valente’s Campos Racing Chevrolet by the time they reached the corner, with Muller leading López and Loeb in the formation in which they started.

The second Lada Vesta of Nicky Catsburg had a relatively poor start and was down to eighth, while Ma Qing Hua moved his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC before the lights went out, and then bogged down when they actually did disengage, dropping him to dead last.

Suffering technical problems during the race was Lada’s Jaap van Lagen and Campos Racing’s Mat’o Homola, who all made early visits to the pits.

The only cars able to pass during the early phase of the race were the out-of-place Citroëns of Mehdi Bennani and Ma Qing Hua. Bennani worked his way up to eighth position before pitting to retire with a problem, while Ma worked his way from the back of the field to 11th before retiring to the pits, with the team declaring this was to prepare the car for his more preferable starting position for race two.

Zengo Honda driver Norbert Michelisz suffered a puncture at the start of lap eight and went off at Turn 1 through the gravel trap, relinquishing the position to Honda’s Tiago Monteiro, who’d been harrying him throughout the race.

A late move in the race by Nika Honda’s Néstor Girolami saw the Argentinian guest driver grab tenth place from Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet driver Stefano D’Aste, with just 12 cars completing the full race distance.

Muller won the race 1.7 seconds clear of López and now trails his team-mate by 27 points heading into today’s second race, where he starts tenth on the grid and Lada’s Jaap van Lagen starts on pole.