Jose Maria Lopez Cruises to Victory in Macau WTCC Opener


Jose Maria Lopez - Photo Credit: FIA WTCC

Jose Maria Lopez claimed a comfortable victory in his first ever race on the streets of Macau – the penultimate race of the World Touring Car Championship season.

Starting from pole position, the Argentinian led through the first corner, quickly built a comfortable advantage and took the chequered flag after ten laps with a 2.741-second margin to clinch his tenth win of the season.

Norbert Michelisz got a good start from fourth on the grid to take second away from Sebastien Loeb on the inside of turn one. It took a big save from the Hungarian a few corners later to keep himself out of the barriers.

Loeb threw his podium position away with a botched overtaking attempt on Michelisz at Lisboa, which resulted in him running wide and falling behind the factory Castrol Honda cars of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro and his Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller, who had lost ground in a slow start.

Those five cars lapped nose-to-tail until the end but with no further changes, with Michelisz holding onto second ahead of an unwell Tarquini.

Tom Coronel dropped a couple of places at the start and finished seventh in his Chevrolet, just ahead of the fourth Citroen of Ma Qing Hua, who relegated Rob Huff‘s Lada down to ninth early on. Gianni Morbidelli completed the top ten for Munnich Motorsport.

Mehdi Bennani had got up to ninth ahead of Huff before being wiped out by backmarker William Lok, who was in the process of moving his SEAT off the racing line on the pit straight when he clipped Bennani on his right, sending the Moroccon into the barrier and out of the race.

Hugo Valente, who is due to start the final race of the season from pole position, finished four laps down after spending time in the pits. Alongside him on the grid should be Tom Chilton, who finished 12th after dropping to the back at the start.