Argentina: Victory a dream come true, says Lopez

Jose Maria Lopez: I am so happy; I really didn't expect this because I am competing with some great drivers.
Local ace Jose Maria Lopez made history last weekend in Argentina as he became the first driver to take a WTCC victory on his debut and also the first independent to take two class victories first time out.

A tenth place in qualifying meant that the Weichers Sport driver started race two from pole - a result of the WTCC reverse grid qualifying rules.

In race one he used his prior circuit experience and also kept out of trouble, to finish in a strong fifth and top independent.

“I have to start by saying thank you to the team,” Lopez told the official WTCC site after the opening race. “I'm very pleased to be here, but at the start all I could think of was taking care of the car since everyone else seemed very keen to welcome me to the WTCC!

“I stayed out of trouble and could use the overtaking places to pass when I could. I was watching the cars in front of me and when they were fighting I could catch them.

“The car was very good and on the pace - it was important for me to record good results in my own country. I am very happy - it's a nice feeling.”

Before the second race, there was tension and a sense that history could be made. Lopez did not disappoint and duly delivered, he was pressured by Tiago Monteiro and Yvan Muller, but when Muller took both out of contention, he was left an easy run to the flag as the Argentine fans went wild with excitement.

The former GP2 race winner said the victory was a 'dream come true' and hopes this isn't his only WTCC experience.

“I was happy but nervous to be starting from P1 – I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew I had to do my best but when I set the time in warm-up I knew that I also had a good car for a fight,” he noted.

“In the first race, I saw I had a good pace so I said 'okay, maybe I could win race two.' The best thing about the BMW is the start and I opened up a gap over the first few laps with new tyres, but then I saw Muller coming and I thought I am in big trouble now!

“Then, I didn't see Muller anymore and so that's when I thought it was possible. I am so happy; I really didn't expect this because I am competing with some great drivers. This is a dream come true.”

'Little Jo' will now resume his TC2000 campaign, where he currently lies in fifth overall, driving a semi-works FIAT.

by Dexter Fielding

Related Pictures

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Jose Maria Lopez - Wiechers Sport, BMW 320 TC [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]

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