CITROËN C-ELYSÉE WTCC REMAINS UNDEFEATED IN ARGENTINA!
After qualifying, the Citroën Total team decided to replace José María López’s engine, which was suffering from an issue that threatened to jeopardise its reliability . As per the rules, the Argentine driver was therefore relegated to the back of the field for the opening race.
Pechito started the early-afternoon encounter from eighteenth on the grid, rather than the tenth place originally assigned to him, while Yvan Muller lined up in seventh place.
When the lights went out, Tom Chilton took advantage of his front-row starting place to make sure he was the first man to the first corner in his SLR team Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. The Briton was followed by Filippi, Rob Huff and Yvan Muller, battling for a podium place after a perfect start!
Just before the halfway mark, Filippi cracked under the pressure exerted by his pursuers and gradually fell away. That allowed Yvan Muller to clinch third place, where he clung tightly to Huff’s tail. The four-time World Champion kept pushing, but could not find a way past, and finished the race in the same position. Tom Chilton produced a flawless race to secure his maiden victory in a Citroën.
Meanwhile, the Termas de Río Hondo crowd revelled in José María López’s remarkable comeback. Lying in fourteenth place after lap 1, the Argentine was in the top 10 two laps later. Spurred on by a crowd that erupted with joy each time he overtook a rival, Pechito hauled himself up into fifth place, giving him invaluable points in the overall standings.
The main race looked likely to be more straightforward for Pechito, who was starting from pole position! Yvan Muller, meanwhile, was fourth on the grid.
When the action began, however, Norbert Michelisz surprised everyone by leading at the first corner, with José María and Yvan neck-and-neck behind him on the long straight! With the Argentine just managing to hold off the Frenchman, the Citroën Total pair set about attacking Michelisz.
In so doing, Yvan forced him into an error. While trying to defend his position, Michelisz left the door open for Pechito to slip past and claim the lead! Muller immediately slipped in behind his teammate, but Michelisz ran into him. Citroën C-Elysée WTCC n°68 ended up in the gravel pit and rejoined the race down in fifth position.
There would be no further changes to the race order before the finish, with José María López picking up his seventh win of the season! He was thus able to thank the assembled spectators – a crowd worthy of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – for their unstinting support.
The result saw Pechito extend his World Championship lead to 117 points, while Yvan Muller climbed to third, just seven points off second spot. Citroën also widened the gap in the Manufacturer standings, its advantage now standing at 196 points.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “One week on from Kris Meeke’s Rally Finland win, it seems like the summer is treating Citroën Racing well! It’s hugely satisfying to have produced two wins for Citroën Argentina. We witnessed a real team effort this weekend. The mechanics did an excellent job in changing José María López’s engine and he was able to return to winning ways in front of his home crowd. It’s important to highlight Yvan’s contribution to that success. By attacking Michelisz, he knew that he was paving the way for Pechito, and that proved decisive. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the result his performance deserved. Bravo, too, to Tom Chilton, who has won his first race with SLR and the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. We couldn’t be in a better position in the World Championship, but we cannot rest on our laurels.”