Termas de Rio Hondo WTCC: Lopez denies Huff's Lada race two win
|By Peter Mills||Sunday, August 3rd 2014, 20:10 GMT|
Jose Maria Lopez completed a stunning double victory in Argentina to extend his lead in the World Touring Car Championship drivers' standings to 60 points over Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller.
The local hero denied Rob Huff, who delivered Lada's highest finish since entering the WTCC in second.
From pole, Huff led until four laps from the finish when Lopez calmly outbraked the former champion into the Turn 5 hairpin. A second home win in one day left Lopez fighting back tears of joy in the post-race press conference.
Yvan Muller's progress through the field was delayed when he was forced to engage in a lengthy tussle with former team-mate Tom Chilton when disputing fifth on laps six and seven, but the Frenchman eventually escaped and was able to negotiate the Hondas to claim final place on the podium.
Chilton would later retire after being squeezed onto the grass by the third Citroen of Sebastien Loeb.
Lead Honda honours went to Gabriele Tarquini in fourth, as he edged out team-mate Tiago Monteiro by half a second.
Sebastien Loeb completed the top six ahead of race one runner-up Norbert Michelisz.
Mehdi Bennani held second place behind Huff during the opening laps, only to drop six places on lap five when he was swallowed up by the two factory Hondas, Lopez, Muller and Chilton. The Moroccan sunk to ninth at the chequered flag.
In an eventful race, Hungaroring victor Gianni Morbidelli received a drive-through penalty for contact with a Lada Granta, while front row starter Hugo Valente posted his second retirement of the weekend.
Dusan Borkovic was excluded from his eighth place finish post-race after his Campos Chevrolet Cruze failed a ride-height inspection.
Campos will appeal the decision, but a complication for the team is that the car needs to be sealed before it is transported to the forthcoming meeting in China.
If the court of appeal fails to reach a decision on the appeal before the Beijing round on October 5th, Campos could be faced with the option of breaking the seal or withdrawing Borkovic's car from the meeting.
Lopez continues to lead the standings on 310 points, Muller is second on 250 and Loeb third on 213.
Results - 13 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 23m16.716s 2. Robert Huff Lada +1.863s 3. Yvan Muller Citroen +2.896s 4. Gabriele Tarquini Honda +5.311s 5. Tiago Monteiro Honda +5.893s 6. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +6.523s 7. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda +6.978s 8. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet +15.264s 9. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda +16.464s 10. James Thompson Lada +16.810s 11. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet +22.790s 12. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada +23.683s 13. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet +29.022s 14. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet +38.501s 15. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW +1m06.948s* 16. Camilo Echevarria Engstler BM +1m18.420s* 17. John Filippi Campos SEAT -1 lap* ** Retirements: Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 8 laps Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 8 laps * TC2 ** Not running at finish