Lopez provisionally wins 2016 WTCC title
Jose Maria Lopez is the provisional World Touring Cars Championship title winner after good results achieved at Twin Ring Motegi. The Citroen driver has an advantage of 120 points what should be enough for the title if the WTCC Race of Thailand will be canceled, as it is expected.
Hondas occupied the front row and both started well. Norbert Michelisz kept his lead, followed by Rob Huff while the championship leader Jose Maria Lopez moved up to the 8th. Ferenc Ficza had problems with his car before the first race at Twin Ring Motegi while Hugo Valente retired on lap 1 after the collision with Gregoire Demoustier who got a drive-through penalty, just as Mehdi Bennani who had a false start.
In a meantime, Lopez moved up to the 6th position. The Argentinian was resolute to clinch the third consecutive title in Japan and looked unstoppable. Thed Bjork in Volvo was in great shape as in the middle of the race sat in third place but soon after Tiago Monteiro passed over him so we had three Honda on the top with five laps to go.
On lap 9, the black-white flag was shown to Nicky Catsburg and that was a really harsh decision, made after contact he had with Lopez in the battle for fourth. In the same time, Michelisz’s lead was never in doubt and the Hungarian scored his first win of the season.
Pechito Lopez started from pole in the second race of the day, followed by Muller and Mehdi Bennani, but Monteiro moved up to the 3rd right after the start, trying to keep a battle for the championship crown alive.
The only question was whether Lopez manage to finish the race and take another title. He had a comfortable lead and a help from his teammate Muller who kept Monteiro at the distance. However, it wasn’t a surprise when Lopez allowed Muller to overtake him on the penultimate lap and to win the race for the first time in 2016.
Lopez finished 2nd but definitely he was the man with the most reasons to celebrate, while Monteiro had to settle for 3rd place.