José María López wins as Citroën Racing become manufacturer’s champions
Citroën Racing secured a 1-2-3 result today at Race 1 in Shanghai to secure the manufacturers’ crown in the WTCC for the second year in a row. José María López won a chaotic race, with team-mates Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb completing the podium.
At the start, both Ma Qing Hua and Hugo Valente didn’t move on the grid, and were miraculously avoided by everybody else. A number of contacts at the first turn saw Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff colliding, both suffering broken suspension.
Campos Racing’s John Filippi then spun at the first corner, which started a chain reaction of drivers braking and trying to avoid each other which saw both Chevrolets of Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel of ROAL Motorsport sustaining heavy damage, ending their weekend prematurely.
The safety car was deployed, staying on track for three laps, with the total race distance being extended to 16. At the restart, José María López pulled away, with Yvan Muller in second place, closely followed by Sebastien Loeb, Nicky Catsburg fourth and Mehdi Bennani immediately behind.
The incidents on the first lap allowed Ma and Valente to climb positions. After the restart, the Frenchman overtook Honda’s Tiago Monteiro for 11th place, with the Chevrolet from Campos Racing also making a move on Stefano D’Aste the following lap.
Gregoire Demoustier retired from the race on lap nine, whilst Nicky Catsburg, who was losing ground behind Loeb, focused on getting away from the C-Elysée of Mehdi Bennani.
On lap 12, Norbert Michelisz, who had managed to climb to seventh place, went side-by-side with Nico Lapierre, but the Frenchman managed to defend the position. Behind the pair, Ma Qing Hua had a transmission problem, missing the braking point and almost collected Michelisz under braking. The Chinese driver returned to the pits and retired.
Both Gabriele Tarquini and Rob Huff returned to the track to check the repairs on their cars, returning to the pits after just one lap.
The closing stages of the race saw Tiago Monteiro attack Hugo Valente and overtake for eighth position. Also, Nicolas Lapierre fell prey to an attack from Norbert Michelisz, with the Hungarian overtaking and gaining sixth position on the last lap.
At the chequered flag, José María López took his eighth win of the season, with team-mates Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb completing the podium.
Nicky Catsburg was fourth, followed by Mehdi Bennani, also the winner in the Yokohama Trophy. Norbert Michelisz was sixth, followed by Nico Lapierre, Tiago Monteiro, Hugo Valente and Stefano D’Aste.
The result allowed Citroën Racing to become manufacturers’ champions for the second year in a row.
José María López gave all the credit for the result to his team: “Congratulations to everyone in Citroën Racing. To all who aren’t here, because everybody is part of this, and I’m very proud to be part of this team. I wasn’t aware of what happened behind me, I was trying to do my race and focus on my result.”
Hugo Valente admitted that the starting incident was his fault: “I stalled on the grid, managed to get a good result and bring the car home, so we are going to be conservative now and continue to score points.”