Crash.net
Jose, firstly allow me to congratulate you on your title success in the World Touring Car Championship - has it all sunk in yet or are you still allowing yourself time to enjoy it?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Not really at 100%, since Macau I've been in and Argentina and coming back to Europe 3 times! So I could say that I spent more time in the air than in the ground! So finally the 22nd of December I will be in my house resting and I think in that time I will realise what I have archived this year

Crash.net
It was a quite extraordinary season for you, coming into the WTCC for the first time with a new manufacturer - going back 12 months, could you imagine yourself becoming world champion in your first season?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Even if you always want to do well and win races everything that happened this year was much more than I expected. It was a perfect and dream season for me. You can never imagine arriving in a new championship and making a record of wins, points in a single season and win the Championship having 2 legends as a team-mates.

Crash.net
You made your WTCC debut in 2013 driving a BMW and won straight-away - did you know then that WTCC was where you wanted to compete going forward?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Yes definitely I knew that first of all I wanted to be back in Europe and the WTCC was the perfect category to be, especially when I knew that Citroen was coming and the big change of regulations.

Crash.net
How long did it take to realise Citroen had created a superior car to its rivals?

Jose Maria Lopez:
The team worked very hard and when I arrived to my first test with them and I knew that they were going to be strong but at the same time as a team and driver was very difficult to imagine how was going to be. For us, everything was new, the team was coming from rallying with a new car, new drivers. It was very difficult to set a goal. We never imagined to win so many races

Crash.net
You quickly made your mark by winning the opening race of the season - was there an element of surprise to your immediate success, or did you expect to be winning from the start?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Yes was definitely a surprise for me. At that point I knew that I was able to perform well over a single lap time but I did not know what to expect in the race. My goal in Marrakech was to finish both races and score good points so in the end was much more than I expected

Crash.net
Given his success in WTCC, many predicted Yvan Muller as the clear favourite for the title. How much of a benchmark was he for you at the start of the season and when did you realise you had the measure of him?

Jose Maria Lopez:
After the pre-season tests I knew I could match his lap times but until we did a couple of races I did know what to expect, I knew that I did not know 8 out of 12 races and the experience was in his favour but I think to start with the right foot in Marrakech and winning in Paul Ricard starting from last gave me a very good confidence

Crash.net
Of all your wins in 2014, one event in particular stands out and that is your double win in Argentina - a clearly emotional moment for you. What did that success mean to you?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Argentina for me was definitely "The Race" of the year for me, not only because was my home race because also I think we arrived to a crucial point in the championship. I knew it was the track that I knew the most so if there was a place to perform was there. Winning the 2 races and scoring all the points possible in the week end was great and it was in my home race! Hearing the people singing the national song on the podium was very emotional, one of the best experience I have ever lived.

Crash.net
You've got a very dedicated fan base in Argentina - how important are your fans to you?

Jose Maria Lopez:
In Argentina motor racing is the second sport in terms of popularity. So the fans really support me during all the year. The people really got into the races and made me feel the support all the time.

Crash.net
You came from the hugely popular TC2000 series, which has a massive following in Argentina - what elements of that championship do you think WTCC could be adopt to perhaps increase interest in the series. Also, do you believe the leading drivers there have the ability to emulate your success should they come over?

Jose Maria Lopez:
We have a very strong national series. And I think the level of the drivers is really good. Racing in Argentina for many years helped me to gain experience in Touring cars. I think in my case not only helped me the experience in Argentina but the fact that I raced in Europe for more than 8 years help me on knowing the way of working of the teams and how to deal on living so far from our country and family.

Crash.net
Having re-signed for Citroen in 2015, how much more is there to come from you? Where do you think you and Citroen can improve?

Jose Maria Lopez:
There is always place to improve, so I am really looking forward to start the 2015 season for keep learning.

Crash.net
How do you expect the competition to stack up next season?

Jose Maria Lopez:
I think the competition will be much stronger always is more difficult to maintain on the top than arrive to the top. So I will be pushing much harder and work harder to try to be on top.

Crash.net
Finally, what does 'Pechito' (Lopez's nickname) mean?

Jose Maria Lopez:
Pechito in English would be "little chest" but is not because I have a little chest (hehe) is because in Argentina we have a sentence that is "pecho frio" we say that, especially in football. When the team does not push hard or does not give everything to win then we call them "Pechos frios". My father once in a meeting for a race that he was going to be part of called all the people in the room "Pechos Frios" because they were doubting in making the race. So from that day the call him Pecho which means 'chest'. So when I was a small kid they called me 'little chest' (Pechito).

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