Jose Maria Lopez Leads Citroen Pack in First Marrakech Race

Jose Maria Lopez

Jose Maria Lopez continued the strong start to his defence of the World Touring Car Championship with his second win from three races in Sunday’s opener in Marrakech.

Starting from pole position for the fifth event in a row, the Argentinian managed to keep the lead at the start despite his Citroen team-mate Ma Qing Hua making a very quick getaway from P3 on the grid.

Lopez controlled the race from there, although Ma was within a second of him at the chequered flag.

A not so good start cost local hero Mehdi Bennani a place on the podium, falling from second to on the grid to fourth by the second corner with Sebastien Loeb taking third.

Yvan Muller ensured that the five Citroen C-Elysees locked out the top five places, despite starting 10th as the result a penalty for contact last time out in Argentina.

Honda‘s Tiago Monteiro had been among the French cars in fourth on the grid but succumbed to Loeb off the line and to the charging Muller later on. The Portuguese driver finished fifth ahead of his team-mate Gabriele Tarquini and another Civic pilot Norbert Michelisz.

Stefano D’Aste was the first Chevrolet home ahead of Tom Chilton, who managed to come through from the back of the grid (after a penalty for changing to an upgraded engine for this weekend) despite contact with ROAL Motorsport team-mate Tom Coronel on lap one that put the Dutchman out of the race.

However, Chilton was penalised after the race, relegating him to 15th and promoting fellow British ace Rob Huff into the points for Lada.