WTCC: Rain soaked Hungaroring no problem for Citroen pair
With a pair of one-two finishes on the soaked Hungaroring track, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs secured the maximum possible points haul to propel the Citroën team to the top of the Manufacturers’ World Championship. José María López also extended his lead at the top of the Drivers’ standings after his third main-race win, while Yvan Muller claimed his first podium finish of the year.
As forecast, a wave of cold, rainy weather set in over Hungary overnight. As soon as they arrived in the paddock, the drivers and engineers got back down to work to adapt the setup of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs to the changed conditions.
By the time the cars lined up on the grid for the opening race, however, the rain had stopped. After two reconnaissance laps, Yvan Muller and José María López opted to put on their slicks. Approaches among their rivals differed, with some plumping for rain tyres, or even a mixed setup, with slicks on the front wheels and rain tyres at the rear.
When the lights went out, Mehdi Bennani took advantage of his rain tyres to take the lead, ahead of Yvan Muller. After a few turns, however, the four-time World Champion’s car went into a slide, allowing two rivals to pass him. With no grip whatsoever, Yvan continued to drop down the standings, finding himself out of the points along with José María López.
While Mehdi Bennani controlled the race, the other Sébastien Loeb Racing drivers were also performing strongly in the pack. Tom Chilton drove brilliantly to climb to second place, while Grégoire Demoustier chased after seventh.
With no chance of scoring any points in the opening race, Yvan Muller and José María López headed for the pits to put on rain tyres so as acquire data for the main race. The race ended with Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton securing a one-two for Citroën, and with it the maximum possible points tally.
The weather conditions remained relatively unchanged for the main race, the meeting’s big finale. This time, all the drivers chose to use four rain tyres. Starting from pole position, José María López made a perfect start, as did Yvan Muller, who climbed from eighth on the grid to third by the first turn!
On lap 2, Muller moved past Rob Huff. A few seconds later, the safety car came out after Grégoire Demoustier crashed off. When the race resumed, López and Muller held on to their lead, but the gaps closed up in mid-race, suggesting a suspenseful finish was in store!
On lap 9, Rob Huff grabbed second place after running into Yvan Muller while braking. After an inquiry, the stewards decided to hand a drive-through penalty to the Briton, and the driver of Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 68 duly regained his former position.
The two teammates continued to dominate until the end of the race, and crossed the finish line in first and second. This second double of the weekend saw Citroën take top spot in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, with a forty-point advantage over the second-placed team. Having led the Drivers’ standings since qualifying, José María López extended his lead to 12 points.