26 May 2014
WTCC Austria: Muller: Lopez pushed me off…
Yvan Muller says Jose Maria Lopez 'pushed him off' at the start of the WTCC race in Austria, prompting a pile-up of three cars.
Yvan Muller has expressed his anger at Citroen team-mate Jose Maria Lopez after getting caught up in an incident with his World Touring Car Championship title rival at the Salzburgring, one that would see him crash out.
The Frenchman, who is seeking his fifth WTCC title this season with series newcomers Citroen, began race day well with victory in the first race, shortening the gap to series leading team-mate Lopez in the process.
However, during the reverse-grid second race, Muller attempted to pull up alongside Lopez on the run to the first corner, only to be edged onto the grass.
When Muller returned to the tarmac, his move would see James Thompson jink to the right and collect LADA team-mate Rob Huff. Huff's spin would collect Thompson and in turn Muller, the trio striking the barriers to retire on the spot.
With Lopez going on to win, Muller – who has now suffered three non-scores this season – was upset with the circumstances of the accident, one that sees slip 41 points adrift of the Argentine
“In the first race, my start wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for me to keep the lead. I didn't attack too much in the first few laps. I wanted my tyre pressure to increase gradually to avoid problems at the end. Little by little, I opened up a gap on Pechito [Lopez] and then Tom Coronel. Even when you're out in front on your own, the Salzburgring is a really complex circuit.
“In race 2, I got a better start than Pechito. I caught up with him, but he pushed me off onto the grass. I came back onto the track and I was hit by another car. The mechanics did an amazing job to repair it, but there was no point rejoining the race a lap behind the others.”
Lopez, on the other hand, refuted blame for the crash, insisting he was unaware of what was transpiring behind.
“The track is really narrow, there's not a lot of space and I didn't see what was going on behind me.”
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