WTCC: Hungary sees Citroen 1-2 despite 60kg of winning ballast for the C-Elysee WTCC
Despite their task being made significantly harder by the introduction of compensation weights for the first time this season, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs finished first and second in race 1 at the Hungaroring.
Shortly before the cars lined up on the grid, a few drops of rain fell, leaving the Hungaroring track a little damp. All the drivers opted to keep their slicks on, however, and their decision was vindicated, as the races were ultimately contested in dry conditions.
José María López got a flyer from the second row. He first got the better of Hugo Valente, before taking the first bend at a rapid pace to move past Yvan Muller and into the lead! Behind them, Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua collided, allowing Valente to climb back up to third. With his bumper damaged and his aerodynamics adversely affected, Sébastien Loeb found himself in sixth spot, behind Ma Qing Hua and Tiago Monteiro.
After a few laps, the gap between Pechito López and Yvan Muller had widened considerably and the Argentine driver was able to power towards his third race win of the season. On a circuit known to be short on overtaking opportunities, there were no further changes to the race order before the finish, with Ma Qing Hua and Sébastien Loeb taking fourth and sixth place respectively.
The best-placed Citroën driver on the grid for race 2 was Ma Qing Hua. Of all the C-Elysées, however, it was Sébastien Loeb who got away the best when the lights went out. The first bend saw Rob Huff go into a spin, causing Muller and Ma to collide. López, who was not ideally placed on the outside, was able to take advantage to get back on Loeb’s tail.
The order of the drivers at the end of lap 1 was exactly the same at the finish: Michelisz, Coronel, Chilton, Monteiro, Loeb, López, Muller, Valente and Ma. For the first time this season, then, there were no Citroën drivers on the podium, but the team’s points tally for the weekend nevertheless stands them in excellent stead in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ standings.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “We knew that this would be a difficult weekend, with a weight penalty of 60 kg on the most winding circuit of the season. Despite that, we have come out of the meeting with one pole position and one one-two finish. This first European meeting of the year has confirmed the popularity of FIA WTCC in Central Europe. We are satisfied with our weekend, but our thoughts are already turning to the next round at the Nürburgring. It promises to be one of the highlights of the World Championship.”
José María López: “I think my start to race 1 was the best I’ve ever made in the WTCC! I’m really happy with this win, particularly after qualifying, which didn’t go brilliantly. Points-wise, this meeting has allowed me to extend my lead over Seb slightly, so it’s all positive.”
Yvan Muller: “I would have preferred to win, but I didn’t get as good a start as Pechito. I was out of the running after the first bend. I fought hard for the first three or four laps, then held back a little to avoid taking any pointless risks. Second is better than third!”
Sébastien Loeb: “I got away well in race 1, before making a mistake in my procedure. At the end of the straight, Ma moved over in front of me and we hit each other. My ‘splitter’ was damaged and I wasn’t able to overtake. My second start was much better, but I spent the whole race behind Tiago Monteiro. He didn’t slip up once…”
Ma Qing Hua: “At the start of race 1, I tried to come around on the outside, but Sébastien ran into me and that cost me a few places. I then had to battle with a car that was hard to drive. In the second race, I went for the inside option. This time, Yvan hit me from behind, when Huff span off. The car’s setup was totally off and I consider myself lucky to have finished in the top 10.”