Clark and Nasir play catch up with the Grand Prix of Belgium and go over the results at Monza, we have Motorsports Mondial and fifty words on the Italian Grand Prix. We also want to share some news from our Citroen boys in the WTCC…
SEVENTH WIN FOR PECHITO LÓPEZ!
– José María López secured his seventh race win of the season at Motegi, extending his lead at the top of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
– The Japanese meeting narrowed the field of possible title contenders, with Citroën Total drivers José María López, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb now the only men still in the running.
– The Citroën team’s points haul from this weekend means it can wrap up the Manufacturers title in the next round in Shanghai on 25-27 September.
Despite the menacing skies and forecasts of rain, Race 1 got under way on a dry track. Norbert Michelisz was unable to take advantage of his pole position, with José María López getting a better start and passing him at the first turn! Sébastien Loeb, who was third on the grid, nestled in behind Michelisz, but found himself boxed in on the outside and was overtaken by Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller, who shot out of the blocks like a cannonball from the fourth row.
Seb then locked horns with Ma Qing Hua, with the two Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs going at it door-to-door for a few bends before the Chinese driver had the last word. The race order at the end of lap 1, then, was López, Michelisz, Tarquini, Muller, Ma, Loeb, Bennani.
But the reigning WTCC champion had to wait until midway through the race to open up a significant gap on the chasing pack. With four laps to go, Ma Qing Hua pulled off a terrific manoeuvre to snatch fourth place from Yvan Muller. Loeb, too, then gained ground on the four-time WTCC champion, but there were to be no further changes in the standings before the chequered flag, giving José María López his seventh victory of the season!
With the first ten from the Race 1 starting grid lining up in reverse order for Race 2, the second race promised to be a trickier proposition for the Citroën team. The few drops of rain that fell during the repair time were not enough to soak the track, and all the drivers opted to stick with their slicks. The first turn was an eventful affair in the pack: José María López was rear-ended, sending him crashing into Sébastien Loeb. The Race 1 winner was forced to pull out of the running with a punctured front left tyre. Pushed into Hugo Valente by Gabriele Tarquini, Yvan Muller managed to hang onto third place, while Ma Qing Hua and Sébastien Loeb finished lap 1 in fifth and seventh respectively.
Lying in fourth spot after moving past Tarquini, Ma Qing Hua was sent crashing off by the Italian, relegating him to eighth. Tarquini was awarded a 30-second penalty for his manoeuvre after the race.
Yvan Muller, who had been pushing hard to try and snatch second place from Hugo Valente, was ultimately left with no choice but to throw in the towel. Having been damaged in the collision on the first bend, his bonnet fastener gave out and he was called into the pits for safety reasons.
The race remained lively until the last, thanks to an epic tussle between Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb and Gabriele Tarquini. Despite launching countless attacks, Loeb just couldn’t find his way past Huff. Tarquini took advantage to slip past the nine-time World Rally Champion, before Seb reclaimed his spot just before the chequered flag!
The Citroën team scored enough points to keep them in an ideal position in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. Provided it doesn’t drop more than 37 points in Shanghai in two weeks’ time, Citroën will secure its second successive world title