Lopez worked hard to win the WTCC main race at Paul Ricard
Jose Maria Lopez had to work hard to win the main race of the WTCC round at Circuit Paul Ricard. The Argentinian was put under pressure during the final phase of the race, but Tiago Monteiro couldn’t beat him.
Furious start of the race
’Pechito’ was on the pole for the main race, accompanied by Monteiro in the front row while Yvan Muller and Tom Coronel were behind them. Reigning champion kept his position after the start, his teammate moved up to second while Coronel was in trouble after failing to start properly and dropped down. Rob Huff, the winner of the opening race, went wide after few turns after the accident caused by, you guess, Gabriele Tarquini. The Brit continued to race despite being back on the grid with damaged Honda Civic while the Italian was punished and soon after retired.
At half of the race, Lopez still had a comfortable lead, but Muller battled to keep P2 as Monteiro was pushing hard. Norbert Michelisz was close behind on fourth, Catsburg was on fifth, but Valente and Bennani were well behind.
Muller lost battle with Hondas
In lap 9, Muller went wide after the small incident with Monteiro, allowing a pair of Hondas to overtake him. The Portuguese in Honda did everything he could to catch up Lopez’s Citroen which was 80kg heavier. With two laps to go, Monteiro was very close to the champion who defended well and scored his first victory of the season and 22nd in the WTCC career.
Monteiro and Michelisz clinched places at podium completing a good day for Honda, especially for the Hungarian who was third in both races. Muller was fourth and Catsburg fifth, confirming that he will be Lada’s striking force this year. Rob Huff also did a great job as he finished sixth after an accident at the start of the race.