Citroën: Season resumes in Pechito’s homeland!
"I’m happy to see my country and my fans again"
Six weeks after the European season came to a close, the FIA WTCC begins its world tour in Argentina. At the Termas de Río Hondo circuit, José María López will clearly be the crowd favourite. Like his teammate Yvan Muller, Pechito will be keen to continue the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC’s South American winning streak.
For Citroën Racing, Argentina is a promised land, rich with exploits. The team’s ten WRC victories between 2004 and 2015 are an all-time record, while the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC is unbeaten in four races at the Autodromo de Termas de Río Hondo. That streak obviously coincides with the dominance of José María López, Argentina’s first motor racing world champion since Juan Manuel Fangio!
Needless to say, the Citroën Total team are looking forward to their trip to South America… Before they make their way to the province of Santiago del Estero, they will, as is customary, spend a few days in Buenos Aires.
On Saturday afternoon, Pechito López will roam the streets of the capital in his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. His itinerary will take him to the city’s most emblematic locations, such as the Plaza 9 de Julio, the obelisk and the Casa Rosada or “Pink House”, the official residence of Argentina’s president.
On Sunday, the two-time FIA WTCC World Champion will be reunited will his old Super TC2000 rivals for the 200km de Buenos Aires. The Citroën C-Elysée WTCC will be the guest of honour, completing a lap of the course before the race gets under way.
The promotional operations will continue with the arrival of Yvan Muller. Track experiences, filming of advertisements, live shows in TV studios and a Citroën dealers’ convention will keep the drivers’ diaries nice and full until the time comes to leave for Termas!
Then, it will be time to focus on the weekend’s racing, which will not be lacking in interest. With seven out of twelve meetings now completed, Citroën has a healthy advantage in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, 182 points clear of the second-placed team. Among the drivers, José María López is ideally placed to secure a third world title, with a 101-point lead over his closest rival. Yvan Muller is in fifth place, just ten points short of the runner-up spot.
However, the high standard of the competition means the margins are tight and drivers relax at their peril. After two winless meetings at Moscow and Vila Real, the Citroën Total team will be wanting to continue their onward march on a circuit where they have always had success in the past.
This wide track with a variety of fast corners and skiddy braking points offers plenty of overtaking opportunities, which will be to the liking of Pechito and Yvan!
Unlike in the previous rounds, the drivers will only have two sessions of free practice to prepare ahead of qualifying. Once more, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs will be burdened with the maximum 80kg of ballast. The Hondas and Ladas will carry 60kg and 50kg respectively, while the Volvos and Chevrolet will be totally ballast-free.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
José María López: “Over the course of the season, there are two meetings I’m particularly fond of: the Nürburgring and Termas de Río Hondo. On the Nordschleife, I was delighted to win pole position and both races. It will probably be hard to do as well in Argentina, even though I managed it in 2014! In any case, I’m happy to see my country and my fans again. My supporters follow me throughout the year, thinking nothing of getting up in the middle of the night to watch the races. I hope there will be plenty of them in the stands this weekend. The Termas circuit isn’t the one I know best in Argentina, but it’s a nice course and it’s perfectly suited to the WTCC. There are multiple overtaking opportunities and the races should be lively. With my lead in the World Championship, I could play it safe, but I will be aiming for victory to try and relive the joys of the past two years. Before that, I’m really looking forward to taking part in the promotional operations organised by Citroën Argentina. They are always good fun and really boost the brand’s profile in our country.”
Yvan Muller: “Despite the break, I feel like the last six weeks have gone by really quickly! We did a test session at the Barcelona circuit to prepare for the end of the season. We tried out different setups, which we have never had the chance to try out during a racing weekend. The results were interesting, and we learnt lessons that could prove useful on some circuits. It’s always a pleasure to go to Argentina, a country where the crowds are sizeable, warm, and really passionate about motorsport… especially when Pechito is involved! On the sporting front, the main new thing is the lack of free practice on the Friday. I’m not sure that changes much. We’ll just have to get down to business quickly to make sure we understand the car and particularly the track. It shouldn’t be too hot, but we’ll have to be attentive to changes in grip if we set off on a dirty track. As far as I’m concerned, I would obviously like to notch up my first win of the season! I’ve never been in this position before, but I’m not too worked up about it. It will happen at some point!”
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