Published on April 24th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
FIA WTCC Paul Ricard Race, Muller and López Wins
The FIA World Touring Car Championship’s first visit to the Paul Ricard Circuit drew big crowds, with many spectators attracted by the presence of Citroën Racing and its home-grown drivers, Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller. After bright sunshine for qualifying, rain soaked the Paul Ricard Circuit in the early hours of Easter morning. The showers stopped just before the start of the first race, which caused the teams to debate their tire choice. Like their rivals, Citroën played it safe, opting for wet tires.
When the red lights went out, Yvan Muller made an uncertain start, taking the first corner in third place, behind Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz. By the end of the first lap, however, the man at the wheel of Citroën C-Elysée WTCC n°1 was back in front of the Hungarian. Having made excellent starts from the back of the grid, Sébastien Loeb and José-María (Pechito) López had already climbed up to sixth and seventh.
Yvan Muller then found a way past Tarquini on the third lap, and immediately stretched his lead over the Italian. In the chasing pack, Sébastien and Pechito mirrored each other’s exploits, both proving too strong for Rob Huff, Hugo Valente and Norbert Michelisz. With three laps to go, Sébastien Loeb exploited a minor error made by Gabriele Tarquini taking second place. Sébastien joined Yvan on the podium, while José-María López had to settle for fourth.
Despite further showers in the afternoon, the track was drying out by the time the second race began. This time, all the drivers chose to run on slicks. With the grid from race one reversed, Yvan Muller began from 10th position, while his teammates again set off from the back of the pack.
The first lap was chaotic, but all the cars came through unscathed. José-María López was the best-placed of the Citroën Total drivers, in seventh. He was just ahead of Yvan Muller, while Sébastien Loeb lay in eleventh. Sébastien then managed to haul himself into the same group as his teammates, but found himself stuck behind Dusan Borkovic. Blocking Loeb at every turn, the Serb ended up sending him crashing into a tire stack. Despite some damage to the front right part of his C-Elysée WTCC, Loeb was able to continue his race after the safety car came out.
Meanwhile, José-María López and Yvan Muller had made their way up the field, after some epic overtaking manoeuvres. Now lying second and third behind Tiago Monteiro, the Citroën drivers first battled it out between themselves, spending half a lap side-by-side. The Argentine driver was able to keep his advantage, and both C-Elysées then overcame Monteiro on lap 14 of 18. This resulted in Citroën achieving another 1-2 finish, with Sébastien Loeb’s sixth place also earning the team precious World Championship points.