Qatar WTCC: Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez dominates first night race

Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez was victorious in the World Touring Car Championship's first night race in Qatar, claiming a 10th win of the season in emphatic fashion

Qatar WTCC: Citroen's Jose Maria Lopez dominates first night race

The world champion won by 7.361 seconds from the Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen of Mehdi Bennani, with victory and fastest lap also maintaining Lopez's faultless weekend record.

It was Sebastien Loeb himself who made the best getaway of the leading three Citroens at the start, but Lopez made sure the first corner was his by quickly switching to the inside line to preserve first place.

Bennani then muscled his way back past Loeb - who was also overtaken by Campos Racing's Hugo Valente - but that brief squabble gave Lopez all the encouragement he needed to stretch an early advantage, which he duly converted into an unassailable lead.

Second place was nevertheless a season's best for Bennani and justified by the strong pace he had displayed to qualify second.

The Moroccan enjoyed a similarly comfortable margin over third-place finisher Valente, who was the only non-Citroen in the top six.

He faced a brief challenge for his podium as Loeb fought back at the start of the second lap, but Valente held firm and defended his line into Turn 1, before gradually easing away from his compatriot.

Loeb was fourth and some way clear of the third works Citroen of Ma Qing Hua, the Chinese driver and his team-mate Yvan Muller some way off the pace of the leaders.

Norbert Michelisz - embroiled in a battle with Bennani for the Yokohama Drivers' Trophy - finished seventh.

Tiago Monteiro passed Nicky Catsburg for eighth towards the end, while Stefano D'Aste scored points for the third successive race with 10th - the Italian having fought off an early challenge from the recovering Nicolas Lapierre.

RESULTS - 12 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 24m33.158s
2 Mehdi Bennani Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen 7.631s
3 Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet 11.774s
4 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 12.717s
5 Ma Qinghua Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 18.815s
6 Yvan Muller Citroen Total WTCC Citroen 19.343s
7 Norbert Michelisz Zengo Motorsport Honda 20.064s
8 Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 22.700s
9 Nicky Catsburg LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 24.397s
10 Nicolas Lapierre LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 31.613s
11 Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 34.224s
12 Rob Huff LADA Sport Rosneft Lada 34.530s
13 Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet 35.129s
14 John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet 36.178s
15 Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Honda 37.292s
16 Nasser Al-Attiyah Campos Racing Chevrolet 39.646s
17 Stefano D'Aste All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Chevrolet 55.426s
18 Gregoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap


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