Citroën: Alsace’s finest fight it out for runner-up spot!
The duel between Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller
Qatar is getting ready to be enthralled by the cut and thrust of the World Touring Car Championship as it prepares to host its first ever WTCC meeting. The Losail circuit, already well-known for hosting MotoGP events, will be brightly lit for the event, since the last two races of the championship season will take place at night.
Though they have already achieved the goals they set at the start of the year, the Citroën Total team and its drivers will be looking to finish the season in style. The principal source of suspense lies in the order of the final podium placings. Having occupied second position in the early part of the season, Sébastien Loeb was then overtaken by Yvan Muller. But in Thailand, as José María López was wrapping up his second World Championship title, Seb once again got the upper hand over his teammate. Going into the final weekend, the nine-time World Rally Champion has a five-point advantage.
“I haven’t often found myself fighting to be World Championship runner-up, but if I were to achieve it, it would give me something to show for all the work I have put in over the past two seasons,” explains Sébastien Loeb. “In 2014, I finished third in the championship after winning two races. This year, I won my first pole position, I have won four races and I’m now second in the overall standings. I’ll be looking to hold on to that position, which would also be a fitting reward for my team of engineers and mechanics. It would be a nice way to round off my fifteenth season with Citroën.”
“Once you know you can’t win, whether you finish second or third is of limited importance. But I really want to end the season on a good note by trying to win one of the two races,” says Yvan Muller. “I was frustrated by the Buriram weekend, where I didn’t finish a single lap in either race after getting involved in collisions. Finishing the season on a positive note would be the best way of beginning my preparations for 2016!”
RECORDS ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN
Of the men who could affect the outcome of this duel, José María López, too, will be looking to finish the season on the top step of the podium, as he did in Macao last year. With six pole positions to his name already, he could equal the record he set last year. Similarly, a tenth race win would see him match his 2014 statistics. And having been in the lead at the end of 104 laps, Pechito could also surpass the record of 106 set by Yvan Muller in 2012!
In the Manufacturer standings, Citroën will be aiming to beat the record points haul (1025 points in 2012) and to equal the number of wins in a season (21 in 2011).
Currently lying fourth in the overall standings, Ma Qing Hua has a healthy lead over Gabriele Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro. If he manages to hang on to his position, the Chinese driver will complete an all-Citroën foursome at the top of the Drivers’ World Championship, a feat not achieved by any team since the competition was created in 2005!
The Citroën clan will also be keeping an eye on the Yokohama Trophy, reserved for independent drivers. Mehdi Bennani, who has been in impressive form since the start of the Asian tour, is now within seven points of Norbert Michelisz. Feeling particularly motivated for this second meeting in the Arab world, the Sébastien Loeb Racing driver will be doing his utmost to try and win the crown!
The last meeting of the season will take place on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 November. On the first day, there will be three sessions of free practice at 12.30, 7.00 and 9.30 p.m. On Friday, it will still be daylight when qualifying begins at 3 p.m. The Qatari circuit will be lit up for the races, which are scheduled to begin at 9.30 and 10.40 p.m. Qatar is in the GMT+3 time zone, 3 hours ahead of UK, meaning the races will get under way at 6.30 and 7.40 p.m. UK time.
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