Morocco WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez leads Citroen 1-2-3 race victory
|By Peter Mills||Sunday, April 13th 2014, 16:18 GMT|
Jose Maria Lopez began his Citroen career with a victory in the World Touring Car season opener in Marrakech, leading a 1-2-3 for the French manufacturer.
Once fourth starter Yvan Muller had outbraked ROAL Chevrolet racer Tom Chilton for third into Turn 1 away from the standing start, the three Citroens were unchallenged.
Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb remained within a second of Lopez throughout, but no overtaking attempts were forthcoming.
Reigning champion Yvan Muller also avoided staging any bold passing manoeuvres on his illustrious team-mate to take the final step on the podium.
Chilton enjoyed a lonely run to fourth, some 8.2s in arrears of the dominant Lopez.
Impressing throughout the weekend, Dusan Borkovic took a fine fifth, ahead of factory Honda racer Tiago Monteiro.
The Serbian's passing move on Monteiro was forceful, the pair clashing into the final hairpin on lap four.
Monteiro lost his rear bumper in the incident, and fellow Honda runner Mehdi Bennani sustained similar damage at the hands of Borkovic's team-mate Hugo Valente.
The young Frenchman received a warning flag for his collision with Bennani, which occurred on the preceding lap when battling for eighth.
Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz appeared to struggle for speed in the closing laps, and fell two positions from seventh to ninth.
Rene Munnich failed to capitalise on his strongest WTCC qualifying performance of sixth by creeping before the lights.
The German driver/owner lost further ground negotiating Turn 1 in a scrappy manner and later retired.
Franz Engstler took victory in the poorly supported TC2 class, but was 1m14 seconds adrift of Lopez.
Results - 14 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +0.713s 3. Yvan Muller Citroen +1.607s 4. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet +8.222s 5. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet +11.849s 6. Tiago Monteiro Honda +20.495s 7. Mehdi Bannani Proteam Honda +25.111s 8. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet +29.953s 9. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda +44.583s 10. James Thompson Lada +48.596s 11. Mikhail Kozlowskiy Lada +1m03.873s 12. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW +1m14.163s* 13. Pasquale di Sabatino Engstler BMW +1m37.538s* 14. John Filippi Campos SEAT +1m41.171s* 15. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet +2 laps Retirements: Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 9 laps Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet 7 laps Rob Huff Lada 4 laps