Lopez, Muller victorious in Marrakech
Argentinian ace, who had a pole position, was the fastest in the first race in Marrakech with Citroen teammates Ma Qing Hua and Sebastien Loeb completing the top three following an intense contest on the streets of Marrakech.
Home hero Mehdi Bennani started second but lost out to Loeb at the first corner. Despite a determined charge to wrestle the place back from his team boss, the Moroccan driver settled for fourth with Yvan Muller fighting back from 10th to fifth at the flag.
Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini were sixth and seventh for Honda respectively with Norbert Michelisz eighth, Stefano D’Aste ninth and Tom Chilton last in the points zone after he overtook LADA’s James Thompson.
However, a first-lap incident between Chilton and his ROAL Motorsport team-mate Tom Coronel is being investigated by the event stewards. Coronel was forced to retire following the clash at one of the track’s tight chicanes. Hugo Valente failed to make it off the grid due to a suspected mechanical fault.
In the second race of the day, Yvan Muller was on pole and he managed to save first position until the end and clinch a victory after long time. Second place won Sebastian Loeb while the last place on the podium in a thrilling incident-packed counter secured Jose Maria Lopez.
Muller and Loeb, who both hail from the Alsace region of France, were inseparable for much of the 14-lap race with Muller coming out on top by 0.552 seconds.
Jos Maria Lopez broke his existing lap record as he charged through from 10th to third with Tom Chilton scoring top Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy points in the leading Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 in fourth.
Hugo Valente took fifth after twice clashing with Mehdi Bennani, while Norbert Michelisz finished sixth, one place ahead of fellow Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini. Stefano D’Aste completed a solid weekend with more points for ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport in eighth. Bennani finished ninth after an eventful 14 laps with James Thompson 10th for LADA Sport.
Frantic efforts from ROAL Motorsport to repair Tom Coronel’s damaged Chevrolet in time for the Dutchman to start race two from the front row of the grid proved in vain when he crashed out following a collision with Tiago Monteiro while dicing for position into the opening turn. Brake issues and a spin dropped Ma Qing Hua to 12th behind John Filippi.