MACAU (13-16 NOVEMBER 2014) – RACES
Having started race 1 from pole position, José María López claimed his tenth win of the season in Macau. In doing so, the 2014 World Champion* set a new record for most victories in one season.
In a highly competitive second race, Yvan Muller managed to secure the runner-up spot.With 17 wins in 23 races, Citroën has achieved a clean sweep of honours, winning the Manufacturers’ title as well as first, second and third places in the Drivers’ standings through López, Muller and Loeb.The penultimate race of the World Touring Car Championship 2014 got underway in stifling heat in front of an excitable capacity crowd, with the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC cars lined up in the first three positions on the grid.
When the lights went out, Sébastien Loeb got an excellent start, pulling level with José María López. Seb was then forced back into third place as Norbert Michelisz sneaked in behind the Argentinian. Yvan Muller didn’t get away well and finished lap 1 in sixth place behind López, Michelisz, Loeb, Tarquini and Monteiro.
Clearly quicker than Michelisz, Sébastien Loeb tried his luck at the Lisboa bend. The manoeuvre failed and Seb dropped three places to sixth, behind Yvan Muller. Meanwhile, Pechito López was pulling away from the pack and charging towards victory, while Ma Qing Hua was demonstrating his overtaking talents. After starting from 11th on the grid, the Chinese driver made his way up to eighth.
Despite plenty of attacks in the chasing group, the race order would remain unchanged until the chequered flag. By winning his tenth race in his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, José María López also set a new record for number of points scored in a season… a record that he would have the chance to improve upon a few minutes later…
Two drivers stood out at the start of race 2: Tiago Monteiro, who slipped in between Valente and Chilton to take the lead, and Yvan Muller, who moved up from 8th to 4th! At the Lisboa bend, Valente failed in his attempt to find a way past Monteiro and was overtaken by Huff, Muller and Michelisz. Further back, José María López was lying in sixth place, with Ma Qing Hua in ninth and Sébastien Loeb in tenth.
Despite few overtaking opportunities, the Citroën drivers injected plenty of entertainment into the race. Yvan Muller was relentless in his efforts to get past Huff. José María López was doing the same with Hugo Valente, while Sébastien Loeb found a way past first Ma Qing Hua and then Tom Coronel.
On lap 7, the safety car was brought out after Ma Qing Hua crashed off. C-Elysée WTCC n°33 had ended up in the tyre stacks at R Bend. The race quickly restarted, with the gaps between drivers now narrowed. With the finish in sight, Tiago Monteiro had to slow down due to mechanical problems. Rob Huff moved into the lead, and managed to hold off Yvan Muller until the end! Hugo Valente was the third man on the podium, while José María López and Sébastien Loeb finished fifth and sixth respectively.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAYXavier Mestelan, Deputy Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “Congratulations to José María López, who has shown all his qualities this weekend. He didn’t make the slightest mistake: pole position, a race win, and the fastest lap. It was a performance that sums up his season! It was also the 17th victory by a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC this year, an incredible achievement in our first season in the competition. There are lots of facts and statistics that emerge at the end of a season like this. The fact that all our drivers – José María López, Sébastien Loeb, Yvan Muller and Ma Qing Hua – have won a race is something we can be extremely proud of, as is the reliability of the car. We are expecting even fiercer competition in 2015, so we’ll be getting down to work to ensure that we have the best possible chance of defending our titles.”
José-María López: “What more could I ask for? Winning in Macau is a special feeling. It was the ideal way to round off what I consider to be the best season of my career. I was expecting Yvan to be untouchable on this circuit. But together, we all put the work in to produce this result. The car was perfect in the races and I was able to find a good pace. I attacked right to the end to avoid any mistakes. It’s now time to celebrate all this, first with the team and then at home in Argentina. In 2015, we’ll be starting again from scratch. I won’t be the outsider anymore, but rest assured, I’ll be defending my title!”
Yvan Muller: “First of all, well done to Pechito, who has had a fantastic season and fully deserves his title. Bravo to Citroën too: it’s a great achievement to win the Manufacturers’ championship and the top three spots in the Driver standings. The second race was exciting: I lost some time on Rob Huff at the hairpin, but I came back in the fast section. However, there were no chances to overtake without risking a collision. This season has been more difficult than previous ones for me, and I’m going to have to work hard this winter if I want to do better next year.”
Sébastien Loeb: “There are good things and bad things to come out of this meeting for me. I am satisfied with my general performance, both in qualifying and in the races. I think I was also one of the only drivers to overtake! But, as has been the case all season, I struggled in the pack. I was perhaps a little bit too eager at the start of race 1, and that’s why Michelisz was able to pass me. In race 2, I ran into a wall, but I managed to recover. I’ll have to apply everything I’ve learnt next year!”
Ma Qing Hua: “I knew the races were going to be difficult, as I was starting from 11th place each time. But I still managed to gain a few places in race 1. In the second race, I was battling it out with Coronel, who just kept shutting me out. I tried to slip past him on the outside, but I was surprised by the path he took, and I found myself on the dirty part of the track. Without any grip, the car went straight into the wall.”
1. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)2. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC) +2’’7413. Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic WTCC) +3’’6614. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC) +4’’0555. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +4’’5896. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +5’’1867. Tom Coronel (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1) +9’’3388. Ma Qing Hua (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +10’’008
Fastest lap: José María López (2’27’’338)
1. Rob Huff (Lada Granta 1.6T)2. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +0’’3443. Hugo Valente (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1) +3’’3524. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC) +3’’9905. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +4’’2856. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +4’’825
Fastest lap: Rob Huff (2’27’’009)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: DRIVER STANDINGS
1. José-María López: 462 points2. Yvan Muller: 336 pts3. Sébastien Loeb: 295 pts4. Norbert Michelisz: 201 pts5. Tiago Monteiro: 186 pts
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: MANUFACTURER STANDINGS
1. Citroën: 1003 points2. Honda: 710 pts3. Lada: 425 pts