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Argentina: Lopez takes emotional home win

Jose Maria Lopez takes historic debut WTCC victory at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina

Jose Maria Lopez has taken a fairytale victory in front of his adoring army of Argentine fans in race two at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, scene of the latest round in the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship.

In doing so he becomes the first Argentine driver to win a WTCC race and also the first Independent to take a double class lockout on his debut.

Having started from pole position and with rear-wheel drive at his disposal in the Weichers Sport BMW 320 TC, Lopez never looked like being threatened - at least early on.

However, then Tiago Monteiro, who was at the time running in P2, started to pile on some pressure and he reduced the gap from nearly four seconds down to just over one. Shortly after that though, Lopez was left in the clear when Yvan Muller unintentionally spun the Portuguese racer around.

Muller was adjudged to have caused an avoidable incident and served a drive-through penalty, which dropped the champion-to-be down to an unlucky 13th at the finish - his first non-score since his torrid time in China last year.

As a result Gabriele Tarquini and race one podium man, Pepe Oriola were left to battle it out over second, the former eventually coming through to take 'silver'.

Michel Nykjaer kept his big points scoring form in good order by taking P4 to extend his lead in the Yokohama trophy.

Behind, Zengo Motorsport's Hungarian driver, Norbert Michelisz had something to smile about and took fifth holding off Monteiro, who recovered to finish sixth, one place ahead of James Nash.

Hugo Valente took his first WTCC points with eighth, the stewards adjudging just a 'slap on the wrist' for an incident with Darryl O'Young late in the race. Tom Coronel was all over the back of the Frenchman at the 'flag, but couldn't pass.

Stefano d'Aste took the last points offering of the day in tenth, staying out of trouble whilst some of his rivals lost their cool.

Alex MacDowall had to settle for P11, while Tom Chilton was twelfth following an off on the first lap.

In the end 19 of the 23 runners were classified, with Rob Huff the first retirement, followed by Marc Basseng, Mehdi Bennani and James Thompson.


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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