Paul Ricard WTCC: Sebastien Loeb dominates opener for Citroen

Sebastien Loeb led from pole to flag at Paul Ricard to claim his third World Touring Car Championship win of 2015, as Citroen marked its home race by finishing 1-2-3-4

Paul Ricard WTCC: Sebastien Loeb dominates opener for Citroen

Loeb's victory was dominant: he crossed the line six seconds ahead of Yvan Muller, who had to fend off the race long challenge of the seemingly quicker Jose Maria Lopez.

Their battle allowed Ma Qing Hua to close on the pair as Lopez's tyres began to fell away in the final laps, but he was unable to find a way past and took fourth.

For Loeb it was far simpler than for his team-mates and once clear of the opening corners, he was able to build a gap of over a second for the early stages before the scrap for second - which included slight contact between Muller and Lopez - handed him a bigger advantage.

There was little chance of a threat to Citroen from the chasing pack, and this was reflected by Tom Chilton's relative straightforward drive to fifth in the ROAL Chevrolet.

Behind him it was a battle of the Hondas. Tiago Monteiro had looked the quickest driver from the Japanese marque on Saturday, but in the race it was Norbert Michelisz who had the edge.

Starting eighth on the grid, he was able to make a rapid launch to quickly grab sixth on the opening lap.

Factory driver Monteiro had no answer to the Zengo car, but he did engage Hugo Valente in a thrilling battle for seventh that ended when Valente had to pit with damage after final-corner contact.

That handed Gabriele Tarquini eighth after he snatched ninth from Jaap van Lagen earlier on.

Race two poleman Mehdi Bennani also beat the Dutchman, finishing ahead of him in ninth as van Lagen settled for 10th in the leading Lada.

Van Lagen was part of a chaotic midfield battle from which team-mate Rob Huff was forced into retirement after suspension damage in the opening laps.

He lasted longer than third Lada driver Nicky Catsburg, who was unable to take his place on the grid and requires a new starter motor for the second race.

RESULTS - 16 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 24m38.108s
2 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 6.020s
3 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 7.147s
4 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 9.102s
5 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 12.638s
6 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 16.032s
7 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 16.286s
8 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 20.888s
9 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 27.191s
10 Jaap van Lagen LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 31.589s
11 Rickard Rydell Nika International Honda 31.802s
12 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 31.822s
13 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 38.658s
14 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 42.028s
15 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 42.362s
- Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet Retirement
- Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada Retirement
- Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada Retirement


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Paul Ricard WTCC: Sebastien Loeb and Citroen claim home pole
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