FIA WTCC 2014 Season review
The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) 2014 season wasn’t one of most spectacular in history of the competition, but was record-breaking for Citroen. Jose Maria Lopez, driver of the Citroen team, was superior in his rookie year, winning 10 of 23 races held at 12 circuits and became a champion taking the title in superior style.
Races in Belgium and France returned to the WTCC calendar in 2014, with Paul Ricard Circuit in France making its World Touring Car Championship debut. Races in Italy and Portugal, homes of Honda touring cars drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, were removed from the WTCC calendar for 2014, while FIA WTCC race of the United States was cancelled mid-season due the logistical problems and was replaced with an additional race in China.
Champion Jose Maria Lopez was in consistent racing form throughout 2014 FIA WTCC season in which he failed to finish only one race. He won seven pole positions and climbed the podium in 17 races. He had the best performance at home soil, at Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit, where he won both races. Former champion Yvan Muller from France took four victories, while Sebastien Loeb was the fastest in two races of the FIA WTCC 2014 season. It was a very good result for Loeb as he moved from the completely different competition.
“At the beginning it was difficult for me and the team to set out a main objective as we didn’t know the WTCC and Citroen was coming from rallying. It has been my best performance in a championship in my career. I had the best car on the grid, but I also had three team-mates and this makes the value of what I have done better“, said Jose Maria Lopez after claiming the WTCC title.
Previous year’s title winner Yvan Muller finished as a runner-up, 126 points behind Jose Maria Lopez, while Sebastien Loeb was third, completing Citroen’s perfect season in touring car racing. Fourth in the final standings was Hungarian Norbert Michelisz behind the wheel of a Honda Civic WTCC even he failed to win a single race, while Tiago Monteiro was fifth, also in a Honda Civic WTCC.
After the end of the season, Loeb has announced that he will form his own WTCC team, Sebastien Loeb Racing, for the next year, which will give a chance to younger drivers to improve and gain racing experience.
Only one more driver managed to win more than one race in the FIA WTCC 2014 season and it was Briton Robert Huff who was the fastest at Beijing, which was a maiden victory for Lada Sport team, and in Macau at the end of the season. Lada Sport team changed its name after the Race of Beijing after its main sponsor Lukoil decided to cancel their partnership with immediate effect.
Single race winners in WTCC 2014 were Gabriele Tarquini, Tom Chilton, Gianni Morbidelli, Mehdi Bennani from and Ma Qing Hua. Victories of latter two were first triumphs for their countries, Morocco and China.
In the WTCC Manufacturers’ championship Citroen was superior with 17 victories in 23 races and with more than 300 points above second placed Honda. Lada was third with 285 points behind Honda. As it was announced a few months before the start of WTCC 2014 season, SEAT did not take part in order to focus on revived SEAT Leon Eurocup, but drivers of Campos Racing team entered World Touring Cars Championship TC2 class with older specification cars.
In the FIA WTCC TC2 class, Franz Engstler from Liqui Moly Team Engstler took 20 victories in 23 races. Experienced driver from Germany finished the season 90 points above John Filippi from France and they were the only drivers to take part in all races.