Dragon FE call-up scuppered triple WTCC champion Lopez's WTCR deal

Three-time World Touring Car champion Jose Maria Lopez says he came "very close" to joining the WTCR world cup grid before an offer from the Dragon Formula E team

Dragon FE call-up scuppered triple WTCC champion Lopez's WTCR deal

Lopez finished ninth overall in his rookie Formula E season in 2016/17 with DS Virgin, but was dropped by the squad at the end of the campaign.

His future with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship was also the subject of speculation at the start of the winter after a pair of significant mistakes last year.

But the Argentinian was eventually retained by the manufacturer and, after sitting out the first round of the 2017/18 Formula E campaign, was called up by Dragon when Neel Jani left the team after the Hong Kong season opener.

Lopez told Autosport he had almost completed a deal to join the reborn World Touring Car Cup with an unnamed team before Dragon's offer was tabled.

"I already had an opportunity [to join WTCR] this year when I wasn't in Formula E and I wasn't sure about the Toyota programme, I was very close to being part of the championship," he said.

"I cannot say with who, but I nearly had a closed deal. [But] at the last minute I had the call from Dragon, I had to take the decision."

Lopez said his decision "maybe let some people down", but added a deal to rejoin the Formula E field would allow him to "challenge myself more" by racing against former Formula 1 drivers.

"I know what I did in touring cars, everybody knows," he said. "I have plenty of time to come back to WTCR.

"But maybe I wouldn't have so many chances to be part of this kind of championship where age is more of a limitation."

He said the switch to TCR regulations for 2018 was the right move for the future of the World Touring Car category after a period of decline.

"It was a bit sad to see how the championship went a bit down," he said. "It was the championship that gave me the opportunity also to be here [in WEC].

"Because of what I did in WTCC everybody started to talk about me [again] after I spent so many years in Argentina.

"But sometimes you need to take a step backwards to get some momentum, and I think it's a good thing [the change to TCR rules].

"We're looking at a series with many cars, even if there aren't any official [factory] teams.

"It's a shame it's not a world championship anymore, but it needed this to get stronger.

"I wish [head of series promoter Eurosport Events] Francois Ribeiro and everyone who is involved the best of luck and I hope they get stronger.

"Hopefully we can have a World Touring Car Championship again soon."

shares
comments
DTM champion Rene Rast gets WTCR Nordschleife wildcard entry

Previous article

DTM champion Rene Rast gets WTCR Nordschleife wildcard entry

Next article

WTCR Hungaroring: Norbert Michelisz sets the pace during practice

WTCR Hungaroring: Norbert Michelisz sets the pace during practice
Load comments

About this article

Series WTCR
Drivers Jose Maria Lopez
Author Jamie Klein
The tin-top champion who doesn't know the meaning of retirement Plus

The tin-top champion who doesn't know the meaning of retirement

The news is out that three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx is stepping down from full-time racing. But he's still got plenty of mileage left him in yet, and his son has much more

WTCR
Jun 16, 2020
The phoenix driver who is at peace with his defeats Plus

The phoenix driver who is at peace with his defeats

Esteban Guerrieri spent years trying to make it in single-seaters, and came closer than you'd think to making it to F1. Now he's forging a successful tin-top career, but it's his philosophical approach to defeat and personal growth that is truly impressive

WTCR
Jan 13, 2020
The surprise team orders twisting a world title battle Plus

The surprise team orders twisting a world title battle

Team orders in major touring car racing are nothing unusual with manufacturer honour at stake. But in the 2019 World Touring Cars title fight, one team is raising eyebrows with the choices it is making

WTCR
Nov 18, 2019
The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter Plus

The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter

Emotions ran high at Suzuka last weekend between two teams gunning for global tin-top bragging rights, and little has been done to cool those tensions since. While that's great news for WTCR, is there a danger of both outfits losing sight of their main aim?

WTCR
Nov 2, 2019
How WTCR's last real independent has stayed in play Plus

How WTCR's last real independent has stayed in play

The World Touring Car Cup has gone from strength to strength for 2019 - but one small team in particular is proving time and again that it merits a place alongside the series' big hitters

WTCR
Apr 23, 2019
The lessons World Touring Cars must heed from history Plus

The lessons World Touring Cars must heed from history

The WTCR has made a massive step up in quality ahead of its second season in its current format, but as manufacturers start to lock horns is it already in danger of repeating other great touring car series' mistakes?

WTCR
Apr 5, 2019
A world champion in waiting's tortuous path to recovery Plus

A world champion in waiting's tortuous path to recovery

Tiago Monteiro seemed destined to win the World Touring Car Championship last year, until a huge testing crash halted his charge. After early whispers of a swift racing return, he recounts his arduous (and incomplete) road to recovery

WTCR
Aug 9, 2018
Why a world championship made the ultimate sacrifice Plus

Why a world championship made the ultimate sacrifice

A rulebook scrapped with two-thirds of its planned existence remaining and the disintegration of a 'world championship' - yet everyone's a winner from one of modern motorsport's greatest acts of martyrdom

WTCR
Jan 9, 2018