José María López takes win and title in Thailand

José María López led from lights-to-flag in the first race at Buriram, Thailand, to clinch his second consecutive world title, after Citroën Racing team-mate Yvan Muller was knocked out by an accident on the first lap.

The Argentinian led a Citroën 1-2-3-4, with Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua completing the podium ahead of Yokohama Trophy winner Mehdi Bennani.

At the start, drama started straight away as the two Lada Vestas of Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Lapierre were involved in an accident with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel, with all three retiring on the spot. Further carnage happened when Tiago Monteiro and Hugo Valente made contact, starting an accident which involved the Frenchman, Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz. As a result the three retired, leaving López with the easy task of finishing at least eighth to win the title.

After the subsequent safety car period John Filippi retired almost immediately with damage, while Rob Huff overtook Stefano D’Aste for seventh and went on to chase Monteiro in his damaged Honda Civic. Shortly after that, Tom Chilton also slowed down in his ROAL Chevrolet and was forced back to the pits with a technical problem.

Rob Huff made a spectacular pass on Monteiro, creating a gap on the Portuguese’s inside at Turn 3 and launching himself into the chase for Tarquini and fifth place.

There were no more position changes however, although Mehdi Bennani was attacking team-mate Ma Qing Hua for the last podium spot.

López won the race and the championship ahead of Loeb, Ma and Bennani. Gabriele Tarquini made the most out of the carnage to finish fifth after starting1 15th, ahead of Rob Huff, with Monteiro seventh despite front-end damage.

Stefano D’Aste finished eighth ahead of Grégoire Demoustier, who had a troubled start, with local hero Tin Sritrai completing the top ten and taking the final point.