Published on May 30th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Twin Wins For Pechito Lopez at the Nurburgring
After inheriting victory by default in the opening race, José María López proved unstoppable in the main race. This dual success at the Nürburgring puts the Argentine driver well clear at the top of the World Championship, while Citroën has also extended its lead in the Manufacturers’ standings.
Held as a curtain-raiser for the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the two FIA WTCC races were contested under blue skies, just hours before a hailstorm swept across the Eifel mountains.
Yvan Muller and José María López were placed 8th and 9th on the starting grid for the opening race. No sooner had the race begun than the Citroën Total drivers were weaving their way through the pack to nestle in behind Tiago Monteiro, Mehdi Bennani and Thed Björk! Bennani lost ground from the first lap and was overtaken. Björk was then forced to withdraw, but not before sending oil spattering onto the windscreen of Yvan’s C-Elysée.
Going into the third and final lap, the top three were still Monteiro, Muller and López in that order, with each of them waiting for the last long straight in the hope of slipstreaming. But when Tiago Monteiro crashed off, chaos ensued: unable to take evasive action in time, Yvan ran into him. Pechito narrowly dodged the two stranded leaders and was the first man across the finish line, ahead of Tom Chilton, who produced a solid race at the wheel of his SLR team Citroën C-Elysée WTCC.
As the cars did not return to the pitlane between the two races, the mechanics could not even try to repair Yvan’s car in time for the main race. José María López started from pole, ahead of Norbert Michelisz, Tom Chilton and Rob Huff.
When the red lights went out, Norbert Michelisz got the best start and moved past Pechito! But even before they reached the Nordschleife, López had reclaimed the lead and quickly opened up a gap between himself and Michelisz. Chilton and Huff completed the leading group.
For the second time in his FIA WTCC career, then, José María López scored the maximum 55 points. That means Pechito now has a 69-point lead over Tiago Monteiro in the World Championship. Yvan Muller lies in sixth place, behind Huff, Michelisz and Bennani. Citroën has an identical lead in the Manufacturers’ standings.