Citroën with no pressure in Shanghai
Muller wants to beat Monteiro
Just as it did in 2014 and 2015, the Citroën Total team once again has a date with destiny in Shanghai! Citroën need only two more points to secure their third consecutive FIA World Touring Car Championship Manufacturers’ title. As far as the drivers are concerned, it’s now all about the battle for the runner-up spot behind the unassailable José María López. Currently lying in joint second position, Yvan Muller will be doing all he can to make it a one-two for the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs!
Since its first foray into motor racing in 1993, Citroën has notched up five FIA world titles: five Rally-Raid World Cups (1993 to 1997), eight World Rally Championships (2003-2005 and 2008-2012) and two World Touring Car Championships (2014 and 2015).
In this, its third and final season in the WTCC, Citroën Racing’s goal was, of course, to retain its titles. In the driver stakes, that mission was accomplished in Motegi, where José María López bagged his third successive crown*. In the Manufacturers’ standings, meanwhile, Citroën now needs just two points to clinch its sixteenth world title in twenty-three years. If all goes to plan, celebrations should be in order for the Citroën Total team after Saturday afternoon’s qualifying sessions!
But the team are not given to resting on their laurels, and they are determined to produce a performance befitting their reputation in China, Citroën’s largest global market. As it happens, the Shanghai International Circuit was also the venue where the manufacturer picked up its world titles in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 edition remains etched in everyone’s memory, as it saw Citroën Racing’s four official cars claim the top four places, with José María López, Ma Qing Hua, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb the men at the wheel!
This year, there is another important honour up for grabs: the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ World Championship. Since his win in Japan, Yvan Muller has been level with Tiago Monteiro in second place, with 199 points. The two rivals will also have to keep an eye on Rob Huff (178 points) and Norbert Michelisz (172 points) just behind them. Things now look tougher for Mehdi Bennani (160 points), Nick Catsburg (145 points) and Tom Chilton (143 points), who find themselves some distance adrift. In their Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs prepared by the SLR team, Bennani and Chilton will also be battling it out for the WTCC Trophy, reserved for private drivers.
With two meetings and four races remaining, there are 110 points still to play for, and it looks set to be an intense fight all the way to Qatar. Four-time World Champion Yvan Muller is determined to use all the racing smarts he has acquired over the years to hold onto his position!
Once again, the adjusted compensation weights look set to influence proceedings. The Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs will again carry the maximum ballast of 80kg, while the Hondas will drop to 60kg. The Volvos, Chevrolets and Ladas, meanwhile, will be totally ballast-free.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
José María López: “Even though I achieved my goal in Motegi, I still have plenty of motivation for the end of the season! First of all, we have to secure the Manufacturers’ title. Next, I’ll be doing all I can to help Yvan get the runner-up spot, which is very important for the team. Finally, I would like to close this chapter of my career on a positive note. I want to enjoy the last two meetings as much as I can. I like the Shanghai circuit. It’s always nice driving on F1 tracks and it’s an interesting course. There is a lot of variety and plenty of overtaking opportunities. I won pole positions and races here in 2014 and 2015, so I hope to do the same this year!”
Yvan Muller: “I owe it to myself to finish in second place in the World Championship, for Citroën and for the whole team. In the past, I have gone through highs and lows in China and Qatar, but I still think we will do pretty well. We will have quite a fight on our hands, as our rivals have made huge progress this season. At the same time, our car is still the heaviest and we will have to keep a close eye on everyone, particularly the manufacturers with no ballast this weekend. I find Shanghai an interesting circuit. I like its speed, and its long straight is tailor-made for the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC.”
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