Lopez Wins Interrupted Second Salzburgring Race


Jose Maria Lopez - Photo Credit: FIA WTCC
Jose Maria Lopez - Photo Credit: FIA WTCC

Jose Maria Lopez scored his third win of the World Touring Car Championship season to extend his championship lead in a race two in Austria that was red flagged after first lap carnage including Yvan Muller.

Race one winner Muller triggered the incident when he dipped two wheels on the grass off the start while alongside Lopez. When Muller rejoined the track, James Thompson had to move right to avoid him and touched his similarly fast-starting Lada team-mate Rob Huff, sending them both into the barriers on either side of the track.

Muller also sustained race-ending damage, while Tom Chilton sustained damage that saw him dramatically lose a wheel.

At the restart, Gabriele Tarquini led a train of four Hondas, with Lopez in fifth. The Argentinian was able to use the superior straight-line speed of his Citroen to move past Mehdi Bennani, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro before the safety car made another appearance to clear gravel pushed onto the track at the first chicane by an off for Rene Munnich.

At the restart, Lopez was able to quickly pull past Tarquini and move into a lead that he extended to 1.6 seconds before the finish. Muller’s non-finish gives WTCC newcomer Lopez a 41-point lead after five of the 12 weekends.

“It’s nice and a little bit unexpected to take my third win of the year here, as I was probably not the best of the three Citroen cars, but things turned out this way and now I am leading the championship with 41 points,” he said. “It doesn’t mean much, as we saw today, things can change very quickly. I never imagined to be in this position, but the championship is still very very long.”

Behind Tarquini, Monteiro and Michelisz, Tom Coronel took fifth after tapping-and-passing the similar Chevrolet Cruze of Gianni Morbidelli just before the safety car.

Sebastien Loeb had to make do with seventh (leaving him four points behind Muller), with Bennani, Munnich and sole suriving Lada of Mikhail Kozlovskiy completing the top ten.