Jose Maria Lopez is the Argentinian racer born on 26th of April 1981 in Rio Tercero. Like almost every pro racer, "Pechito," as he was nicknamed, had his first driving experience in karting.
When he was 20 years old, Lopez moved to Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and also performed in Italian Formula Renault series where he immediately became a champion. He continued with Formula Renault V6 Eurocup and in the first year won the crown by winning five races.
Pechito Lopez competing in GP2 Series, Monza 2006
The next step in Lopez's career was going into the International Formula 3000. In 2004, he took sixth place while in the following year he was part of the inaugural GP2 season. He had spent two years in this competition, but without much success. This was followed by a return to Argentina and performances in several competitions, including the ALMS.
F1 remained elusive
Lopez experienced the taste of F1 as a test pilot for Renault in 2006. In 2010, Lopez was close to performing in races because he had signed an agreement with US F1 Team, but the project of American squad crumbled. There was also a chance for him to join CamposRacing after they decided to choose Indian Narain Karthikeyan. Somewhat disappointed, he continued to race in various competitions in Argentina and won Super TC2000 title in 2012.
Lopez driving a Fiat Linea RPE V8 in TC 2000 series Argentina
Excellent results in 2009 crowned with two titles
Pechito Lopez was very successful in his homeland before his try to get into Formula 1. In TC 2000 series, country's most prominent touring cars competition, he won titles in 2008 and 2009, while in Top Race V6 series he became a champion in 2009. Lopez easily could win three titles that year, but was unlucky at the final race of Turismo Carretera championship after crashing on the last lap of the final race.
Jose Maria Lopez
Move to FIA WTCC
In 2013, he made probably the best decision in his career when he stepped into the FIA World Touring Cars Championship with the Wiechers-Sport and immediately managed to achieve a victory. In the following year, he was assigned to the Citroen Team and overwhelmingly, against all expectations, won the title by winning 10 races. At the end of the season, Lopez had astounding 126 points more than second placed Yvan Muller.
Video - Tribute to Citroën WTCC ace Pechito Lopez
"It has been much better than I expected. I ended having broken the record for wins and points in a season, against very experienced guys, including Yvan Muller who has been the reference in the series for many years. It will be difficult for me to equal this in 2015. It has been my best championship in my career”, said Lopez at the end of the triumphant season of 2014.
Lopez drivies Citroën C-Elysee in FIA WTCC race of China
Argentinian ace repeated his success in 2015, again driving Citroen. Lopez defended his World Touring Cars Championship crown scoring 10 wins and 9 podium finishes in 24 starts, again beating his team-mate, and former champion, Yvan Muller, this time with a margin of 117 points.
Third consecutive WTCC title and switch to Formula E
The Argentinian ace won his third consecutive WTCC title in 2016. He scored eight wins and other three podiums on the way to another championship crown. Just like in the previous year, Lopez beat his teammate Yvan Muller by a huge margin of 124 points. At the end of the season, Citroen pulled put of the WTCC but Pechito earlier secured a new engagement.
In 2017 Lopez switched to FIA Formula E Championship
He signed with ambitious DS Virgin Racing to drive alongside Sam Bird in 2016 - 2017 Formula Championship. Lopez won pole position for the season-opening race in Hong Kong but retired from the race. However, Pechito picked points in the following three rounds.