Paul Ricard WTCC: Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez wins from eighth
Jose Maria Lopez won the second World Touring Car Championship race at Paul Ricard to make it a clean sweep of Citroen victories at its home circuit
Lopez came from eighth on the grid to take the win ahead of Norbert Michelisz, who relented his long-time lead three laps before the end.
He was able to narrowly keep ahead of the chasing Citroen duo of Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller, while their team-mate Sebastien Loeb had to retire after a large shunt with the tyre stacks at the chicane's exit.
It was around this mark that the works Citroens began to start their assault on the podium after the top 10 reverse grid format put Mehdi Bennani on pole in the Sebastien Loeb Racing C-Elysee ahead of Jaap van Lagen's Lada and Michelisz's Zengo Honda.
Bennani's lead was eradicated before the lights went out after he jumped the start, earning a drive-through penalty.
He quickly served it and began a recovery drive as van Lagen fell down the order.
Michelisz then had the road to himself and made it count, building a strong lead as the four Citroens worked their way through traffic
Muller in particular found himself bogged down in the midfield, running in 10th for the early stage of the race.
While his team-mates found it easy to carve through the field, Loeb's race soon came to an end.
Hoping to make it back to back wins and a clean sweep at his home race, Loeb was in the group catching the top three but he got his exit wrong at the chicane and smashed the front of his car into the tyre stacks before retiring.
The nine time World Rally champion's team-mates continued their charged but their advances were soon halted by Tiago Monteiro.
Lopez was quicker than the Honda man, but he couldn't work a gap until the halfway mark.
The Argentinian pursuer had the advantage on the straights and took a wide line out of Turn 1 as Monteiro took the racing line on the inside.
The different approaches meant Lopez hit the rear of his rival and pitched him into a spin that forced the Portuguese racer to retire.
That lengthy battle and subsequent collision had only strengthened Michelisz's lead at the front as Ma assumed second ahead of Lopez.
The team-mates were losing time on the race leader by battling, but Ma eventually relented.
He had previously moved across to deny Lopez's favoured outside line at Turn 1, but on the following lap Ma allowed Lopez past and nearly let Muller to take third from him too.
The reigning WTCC champion was then free to chase down Michelisz and the long-time race leader had no answer to him in the final stretches, as Lopez came through to take victory.
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