Citroen Racing Argentinian WTCC qualifying review


The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs achieved their fourth qualifying 1-2-3 of the season at the Termas de Río Hondo circuit

- José-María López shone in front of his home crowd, winning pole position with a perfect Q3 lap.

- Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb will start race 1 from second and third places on the grid.

In the southern hemisphere, August is usually the month when the weather is at its wintriest, but temperatures were pushing 30°C at the Autodromo Termas de Río Hondo for round 8 of the FIA WTCC 2014!

In Friday’s first half-hour free practice session, José-María López clocked the fastest time, ahead of Sébastien Loeb. The man from Córdoba repeated the feat on Saturday morning, with the nine-time World Rally Champion once again in second place. In the third and final session, it was Yvan Muller’s turn to make his mark, relegating Pechito to second spot by just four hundredths of a second!

Once again, the qualifying session promised to be a breathtaking affair, with the three Citroëns all capable of claiming pole position. Q1 went off without a hitch for the three Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs, with all three drivers comfortably securing their spot in Q2.

Pechito López clocked the best time in the second qualifying session, improving on his performance from free practice. Just a few tenths of a second behind him, Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller also made it through to Q3.

Yvan Muller, the first Citroën driver out on track for his single timed lap, went quicker than both Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, but the four-time World Champion was disappointed with his performance. A few minutes later, Sébastien Loeb fared no better.

In an ideal scenario for the sizeable Argentine crowd, José-María López was the last man to go. Pechito produced a faultless performance, notching up three consecutive purple sectors on his way to the fastest lap of the day, four tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAYYves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “It’s never easy racing at home; the expectations of the public and the media inevitably create extra pressure. And nowhere is that truer than in Argentina! Pechito has had a great weekend so far and he has been rewarded with pole position. Yvan and Sébastien are very close in terms of performance levels, but they weren’t able to produce a flawless lap in Q3. Nevertheless, the races are sure to be exciting!”

José-María López: “If there is one race you really want to do well in, it’s your home meeting, but to achieve that, you’ve got to work really hard to push yourself to your limits. Along with my teammates and my engineers, I managed to get better session after session and lap after lap. But even though I’d been the fastest driver up to that point, I didn’t know what to expect in Q3. We’ve often seen things change drastically at that stage, as happened at Spa-Francorchamps! My Citroën C-Elysée WTCC was perfect and I gave it my all, drawing on all my experience of this track. It was a great moment when I was told I’d won pole position. It was really emotional getting a result like that, especially with my family watching. Tomorrow is another day, though, and I’ll have to continue to improve to win.”

Yvan Muller: “We have been searching for the right setup all weekend, but I’m still having to cope with severe oversteering. In Q3, I lost the back of the car on the first bend, but managed to get it back again. After that, I was probably too cautious, and it wasn’t a great lap for me. We’ll see what I can do tomorrow. The start will no doubt be crucial.”

Sébastien Loeb: “I was really happy with my car, but I pushed a little too hard and made a mistake at turn number 9, which is probably the most difficult. It’s always difficult to know how aggressively to drive, particularly on the Q3 lap. The races will be interesting tomorrow, as there are real overtaking opportunities here. The track is wide and varied; I really like it.”

QUALIFYING RESULTS1. José-María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) 1’43’’7662. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) 1’44’’1943. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) 1’44’’3104. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC) 1’44’’4085. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC) 1’45’’174