Lopez dominates home WTCC race in Argentina

Track Action (photo by WTCC)The Race of Argentina was a sweet dream for both the numerous Argentine fans that flocked to Termas de Río Hondo and local hero José María López.

In front of a huge crowd – 50,000 over the two days according to the official figures released by the circuit – the Citroën driver took a double victory, becoming the first driver this year to win both races in the same weekend, and bringing his personal number of successes this season to seven. The emotional side of Pechito’s triumph added something special to a weekend that won’t be forgotten by anyone present at Termas in a very hot Sunday.

López’s perfect weekend started with the pole position and a lights-to-flag win in Race 1, while Race 2 saw him battling to emerge from the middle of the group and taking the lead seven laps from the end. With Yvan Muller finishing third twice, López has now extended his lead in the standings to 60 points.

The Argentine round had other and unexpected heroes: the LADA Sport Lukoil team that ended the weekend with its first WTCC podium ever, three other point finishes and having led a WTCC race for the first time since their involvement in the championship. Rob Huff started from the reverse pole in Race 2, led for eight laps and finished a brilliant second, being beaten only by López. The achievement of the much-improved Granta cars was duly celebrated by the Russian team.

Norbert Michelisz also visited the second spot of the podium, in Race 1, signing the best result of the weekend for the Honda Civic delegation. Franz Engstler added two wins to his collection of successes in the TC2T class.

Now the championship faces a two-month break before resuming at Beijing’s Goldenport Park, China, on October 5, for rounds 17 and 18.

Pechito López delivered what the thousands of his fans standing under the sun at Termas expected from him.
The Argentine took an authoritative success in Race 1, leading from lights to flag after an impeccable start from the pole. An excellent start of Michelisz and Monteiro gave some emotion to the first phases, but soon the Citroën cars of the two Frenchmen repassed the Honda. The other hero of the day was Norbert Michelisz, who perfectly kept his second position showing consistent pace and managing to keep Muller, Loeb and Monteiro at bay.

Tom Chilton finished 6th and best-placed of the Chevrolet RML cars, while another noticeable fact of the race was that two LADA cars finished in the points. Rob Huff took an excellent 7th, after a consistent race, just ahead of Tarquini, and James Thompson stole tenth in the last corner from Tom Coronel. Franz Engstler won again in TC2 ahead of John Filippi.

José María López left no doubts about who the hero was at Termas de Río Hondo.

The Argentine rounded the weekend by winning also a very lively Race 2. He had to fight to extricate himself from the group and took the lead in lap 9 from Rob Huff, who was the other hero of the day. The Briton managed to have his LADA in the lead for eight laps and eventually was only second to López.

It is the first time that a car of the Russian maker leads a WTCC race and finishes on the podium. The team completed the excellent day with another points finish by Thompson (10th).

Yvan Muller was third, just like in Race 1, overtaking the Honda cars of Tarquini and Monteiro, while Franz Engstler and Camilo Echevarría made it a 1-2 in the TC2T class for the Liqui Moly-livered BMW cars.

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