A second place finish from either race in Suzuka will be sufficient for Jose Maria Lopez to secure the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, in doing so becoming the first Argentinian to win an FIA title since the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.

An eighth win of the season last time out in Shanghai, coupled to a costly DNF for his sole remaining rival Yvan Muller, means Lopez is just 17 points shy of sealing the drivers' crown in Japan for Citroen with one round in hand.

A remarkable feat for a driver that only made his full-time switch to WTCC competition in 2014, Lopez has led from the very start of his rookie season and though he insists the pressure has only begun to mount recently as the prospect of the title loomed, he is calm ahead of what is set to be a defining moment in his career.

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"I have to stay focused till the end," he said. "At the start of the season, I wasn't thinking about winning the title. I was just there to do as well as I could and to help the team meet its goals. Although I've been leading since qualifying in Marrakech, I refused to think about the title until I won both races in Argentina.

"In Shanghai, I felt more nervous, as I felt the moment was drawing nearer," he admits. "I have already won several titles over the course of my career, but I have to say that the prospect of becoming World Champion surpasses anything I've experienced before. There's a lot of pressure, but it's nice pressure to have to cope with!"

Should Lopez go on to seal the WTCC title this weekend, he will become the first person from Argentina to win an FIA World Championship in 57 years when Juan Manuel Fangio clinched the fifth of his F1 titles in 1957.