Morocco WTCC: Sebastien Loeb wins on debut weekend for Citroen
|Sunday, April 13th 2014, 17:52 GMT|
World Rally legend Sebastien Loeb completed a fairytale debut in the World Touring Car Championship by winning an action-packed race two in Marrakech for Citroen.
The race was marred by a pile-up soon after the start, as front row men Tom Coronel and Mehdi Bennani clashed.
Coronel's Chevrolet hit the wall hard and then bounced back across the track, collecting Yvan Muller's Citroen before hitting the wall hard again on the other side.
The red flags came out, and there were amazing scenes as Coronel confronted Bennani, whose car had escaped with only minor damage, on the grid during a live TV interview.
They ended up embracing despite each blaming the other for the crash.
At the restart, Bennani led from Tiago Monteiro and Loeb, who had picked his way through the chaos from ninth on the grid.
The Citroen man picked off Monteiro at the first chicane, and took another lap to drive past Bennani to take the lead.
Bennani was then given a drivethrough penalty, for causing the earlier collision with Coronel, which dropped him to eighth, but his delay was negated as Dusan Borkovic's Chevrolet broke down on the start/finish straight, and required another safety car.
First race winner Jose Maria Lopez had risen to second before the second restart, passing Hugo Valente and Monteiro, but his challenge to Loeb got off to a poor restart, as the former rallyman jumped well clear of his team-mate.
Loeb pulled away to a 4.321s victory over Lopez, who now leads the championship by a point, with Valente third, despite his car catching fire in parc ferme.
"This is more than I expected," said Loeb. "To win race two from ninth on the grid. We tried to avoid the crash at the start, I was a bit lucky. I pushed hard to overtake and a victory is very good."
Tom Chilton grabbed fourth by 0.026s at the finish line from Bennani.
Muller's exit means he is 30 points behind Lopez already.
Results - 16 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 47m50.589s 2. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen +4.321s 3. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet +7.598s 4. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet +18.305s 5. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda +18.331s 6. Mikhail Kozlowskiy Lada +19.757s 7. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet +23.117s 8. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW +38.957s* 9. John Filippi Campos SEAT +48.611s* 10. Pasquale di Sabatino Engstler BMW +50.553s* 11. Tiago Monteiro Honda +2 laps Retirements: Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 7 laps Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 4 laps Rob Huff Lada 1 laps * TC2