Buriram WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez wins race and 2015 championship

Jose Maria Lopez clinched his second straight World Touring Car Championship title with victory in the series' first race at Buriram in Thailand

Buriram WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez wins race and 2015 championship

Lopez led from pole position and his title triumph was sealed when rival Yvan Muller was involved in a messy opening lap behind the Argentinian.

First, contact at Turn 1 left three yellow cars parked in the run-off area, with the Chevrolet of Tom Coronel and Ladas of Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Lapierre all eliminated.

Muller was caught up in a melee at Turn 6 together with fellow Frenchman Hugo Valente, and was forced to retire to the pits with damage.

After the subsequent safety car period, Lopez was forced to defend at the restart from Sebastien Loeb.

As the race wore on, Lopez gradually shook off the nine-time World Rally champion, finishing 1.3 seconds clear as he claimed his ninth win of the season.

Ma Qing Hua passed Mehdi Bennani at the restart and kept the Moroccan at bay to complete the podium in a Citroen 1-2-3-4.

The attrition continued after the first lap, with Tom Chilton slowing out of fifth place 10 laps in, while John Filippi and Tiago Monteiro had already come to blows behind the Briton.

Inheriting fifth was therefore Gabriele Tarquini, up from 15th on the grid, ahead of Rob Huff, who started 18th and last on the grid after his rear windows were found to be not thick enough in qualifying.

The British Lada driver passed a battered and bruised Monteiro, who ended up seventh ahead of Stefano D'Aste and Gregoire Demoustier.

Local entrant Tin Sritrai picked up 10th on his debut as the final finisher.

RESULTS - 16 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 29m10.403s
2 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 1.380s
3 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 6.376s
4 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 7.202s
5 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 14.500s
6 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 15.177s
7 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 18.493s
8 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 21.004s
9 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 22.830s
10 Tin Sritrai Campos Racing Chevrolet 27.419s
- Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Retirement
- John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet Retirement
- Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen Retirement
- Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda Retirement
- Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Retirement
- Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet Retirement
- Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada Retirement
- Nicolas Lapierre LADA Sport Rosneft Lada Retirement


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Buriram WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez claims pole as 2015 title looms

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