Nurburgring Nordschleife WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez wins race one

World Touring Car Championship leader Jose Maria Lopez converted pole position to victory for Citroen at the first Nurburgring Nordschleife race as chaos erupted behind him at the start

Nurburgring Nordschleife WTCC: Jose Maria Lopez wins race one

Lopez's team-mate Sebastien Loeb made a clean getaway to run to an untroubled second place at the finish, 4.930 seconds down on Lopez.

Chevrolet privateer Hugo Valente was slow away from the front row and swerved right to block Norbert Michelisz, who exploded forwards from fourth on the grid in the Zengo Honda.

Valente collected Michelisz but failed to arrest his progress, instead dropping to the lower reaches of the top 10 as the field threaded through the first corner.

Lopez led from Loeb and Yvan Muller, with Michelisz heading the chase, closely attended by Gabriele Tarquini in the fastest of the works Hondas and Ma Qing Hua's Citroen.

Valente's physical race continued as he came under pressure from 'Queen of the Ring' Sabine Schmitz and Tom Chilton, both also in Chevrolet Cruzes.

Chilton tried to dive past on the inside at the entrance to the Nordschleife, receiving a swerve and a tap as rebuttal and nearly being directed into the barrier.

A lap later Valente made his way past Tiago Monteiro in the second of the works Hondas to claim ninth place, but as light rain began to fall he ran wide at the Dunlop curve on the Grand Prix loop and ceded the position.

He then took too much kerb on the way up the hill and spun into the barrier.

The leaders ran in formation to the end, and on the final lap Lopez lit up the timing screens with purple sector after purple sector, as if to underline his superiority.

Muller fell back from the leading duo, but not enough to fall prey to Michelisz, while Ma mugged Tarquini for fifth place within sight of the chequered flag.

Rob Huff, who like Lada team-mate Jaap van Lagen started from the rear after an engine change, was a first-lap retirement along with Tom Coronel, while Monteiro dropped out with a front-left puncture on lap two.

Van Lagen quickly made his way past the less experienced Gregoire Demoustier and John Filippi (both in Chevrolets), but then met his match in the similarly Ring-savvy Schmitz.

Even though the Lada has been the fastest car through the speed trap all weekend and Schmitz was driving an old-spec Cruze, the Queen of the Ring had an answer to every question posed by van Lagen and stayed ahead to claim a point for 10th place in her WTCC debut.

RESULTS

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Time Gap
1 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 3 26m02.550s -
2 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 3 26m07.480s 4.930s
3 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 3 26m11.309s 8.759s
4 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 3 26m12.468s 9.918s
5 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 3 26m13.066s 10.516s
6 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 3 26m13.339s 10.789s
7 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 3 26m13.939s 11.389s
8 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 3 26m15.305s 12.755s
9 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 3 26m24.460s 21.910s
10 Sabine Schmitz All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 3 26m37.898s 35.348s
11 Jaap van Lagen LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 3 26m38.276s 35.726s
12 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 3 26m39.122s 36.572s
13 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 3 26m50.024s 47.474s
14 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 2 17m47.437s 1 Lap
- Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 1 8m51.536s Retirement
- Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 1 20m04.454s Retirement
- Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 0 2m34.741s Retirement


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Insight from a Nordschleife master

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