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Lopez leads Citroen formation in opener

13 April 2014

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  • Jose Maria Lopez leads a truly dominant Citroen 1-2-3 formation in WTCC opener
  • The Argentine leads from the first bend to give Citroen the perfect start to its WTCC tenure
  • Chilton gives chase but finishes as a very distant 'best of the rest'

Jose Maria Lopez consolidated his pole position to reel off a comfortable victory in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship opener around the streets of Marrakech as Citroen maintained its dominance in race conditions.

New to the series for 2014, while Citroen's vast and extensive pre-entry testing programme compared with its rivals was always expected to single it out as a clear favourite coming into the Morocco event, the manner of its dominance has still been impressive.

That said, there was still a fierce inter-team battle to consider, with Lopez causing a stir by getting the better of his team-mates in qualifying, a crucial advantage that he would consolidate with a strong start to lead into the opening bend.

With Sebastien Loeb and Yvan Muller slotting in behind him, the trio would quickly break the chasing pack and set off in a formation that, while close, never looked likely to change.

As such, with Citroen no doubt keen to lock out the podium in its first race, there was no threat posed by either Loeb or Muller, leaving Lopez to claim victory – his second success in only his third WTCC race having also won for BMW during a wild-card performance in his native Argentina last year.

Loeb picked up second on his touring car debut, with Muller paying the price for having his qualifying time deleted as he could only progress from fourth to third.

Eight seconds back, Chilton came home a lonely fourth in the ROAL Chevrolet Cruze, while series newcomer Dusan Borkovic was a fine fifth and provided the race with one of its few overtaking manoeuvres after nudging Tiago Monteiro aside in a pass that may nonetheless draw the ire of the race officials.

Monteiro recovered to sixth, sans rear bumper on his Honda Civic, while Mehdi Bennani gave the home fans something to cheer about with an assured drive from ninth to seventh in the Proteam Honda. He starts the second race from the front row.

Another driver to make progress on his grid position, Hugo Valente was eighth, ahead of Norbert Michelisz, the Hungarian losing two places late on when he made an error. James Thompson picked up the final point in tenth for LADA.

In the TC2 class, Franz Engstler was a dominant winner, well ahead of Pasquale di Sabatino and John Filippi, the only other drivers in the category for the older specification machines.


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