Click to read the full exclusive interview with Jose Maria Lopez

Jose Maria Lopez admits his immediate runaway success in the World Touring Car Championship came as a significant 'surprise' to him as he strolled to a record-breaking title at his first attempt.

A former GP2 driver and F1 test driver, Lopez returned to the international racing scene in 2014 as part of Citroen's burgeoning assault on the WTCC having caught the eye with a surprise wild-card victory in his native Argentina during a one-off race outing in 2013.

Though Citroen's better grasp of the new regulations assured its dominance in 2014, Lopez would still emerge as the surprise title winner, comfortably defeating three-time championship-winning team-mate Yvan Muller in the process.

Furthermore, with 10 wins and 17 podiums from 23 races, Lopez's campaign would shatter a series of records along the way. Indeed, though 'Pechito' says he was confident he would fare well in WTCC, he admits the manner of his title win was rather less expected.

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

"[The early success] 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 ."

Reflecting on his rivalry with team-mate Muller, Lopez had high hopes of matching the Frenchman like-for-like but did expect his relative lack of track experience to count against him.

"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."

Click to read the full exclusive interview with Jose Maria Lopez



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