WTCC - 2015 RACE OF QATAR - RACE REPORT | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
This page contains archived information and may not display perfectly

WTCC - 2015 RACE OF QATAR - RACE REPORT

28.11.15
Muller beats Loeb to become WTCC vice-champion as Michelisz takes independent title in night-time thriller
WTCC Race of Qatar

*Emotional send-off for Loeb whose impressive WTCC stint ends in Qatar
*López equals own record of 10 wins in a season with opening-race victory
*Michelisz captures the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy under spectacular floodlights
*Home hero Al-Attiyah finishes both races on WTCC debut

Yvan Muller has beaten Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb to the coveted runner-up spot in the FIA World Touring Car Championship by a single point as the all-action 2015 season concluded with a floodlit spectacular at the Losail International Circuit, venue of the WTCC’s maiden night race and the first in the Middle East.

And there were celebrations too for Norbert Michelisz at the finish of WTCC DHL Race of Qatar with the Hungarian Honda driver capturing his second Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy by four points ahead of Mehdi Bennani, who finished second overall in race one.

José María López equalled his own record of 10 wins in one season by triumphing in the opening counter before Muller claimed race two honours after John Filippi had led away from the reverse-grid pole. Hugo Valente joined López and Bennani on the race one podium, while Ma Qing Hua and Michelisz completed the podium for race two.

Elsewhere, ROAL Motorsport, the team co-owned by touring car legend Roberto Ravaglia, secured the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy thanks to the efforts of drivers Toms Chilton and Coronel.

RACE ONE ROUND-UP: LÓPEZ EQUALS RECORD WITH VICTORY NUMBER 10

After surviving a first-corner attack from team-mate Sébastien Loeb, José María López was able to sprint to an impressive victory ahead of Mehdi Bennani and Hugo Valente. By winning the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy category in second overall, Bennani narrowed Norbert Michelisz’s lead in the battle for the independent racers’ title ahead of the season finale to two points. Loeb, who started third, fell to fourth, fought back ahead of Valente for third before dropping back at Turn 1 on lap two. He hassled Valente for the remainder of the 12-lap contest but ultimately settled for fourth, a result that nevertheless enabled him to extend his advantage to 12 points over Yvan Muller in the fight to be WTCC vice-champion. Muller finished sixth behind Ma Qing Hua with Michelisz seventh ahead of fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro, who overtook LADA’s Nicky Catsburg for eighth on the penultimate lap. Stefano D’Aste completed the top 10, while Gabriele Tarquini recovered from a handful of spins to beat local hero Nasser Al-Attiyah to P16.

RACE TWO ROUND-UP: MULLER ON TOP AS INDEPENDENT RACERS SHINE

John Filippi gave his all to keep Yvan Muller behind on the charge to the first corner. Although Muller initially got ahead, Filippi fought back at Turn 1 to hold a lead that would last for five laps while the safety car circulated following a collision between Nicky Catsburg and Stefano D’Aste. When racing resumed Muller seized his opportunity at T1 as contact with Filippi sent the youngster spinning to the side of the track, while Muller just did enough to keep Ma Qing Hua at bay as he battled to regain control of his Citroën. Even if Filippi had kept Muller behind, his tenure of top spot wouldn’t have lasted after officials deemed the 20-year-old had made a false start, which earned the privateer a drive-through penalty. While Muller gradually increased his lead over Ma, Loeb was unable to pass Norbert Michelisz for third and the points he needed to secure the runner-up spot in the final table in what is likely to be his final appearance in the WTCC. Mehdi Bennani took fifth with Hugo Valente sixth, Gabriele Tarquini seventh and José María López eighth after opening-lap contact sent him off track and down to P12. Tiago Monteiro and Nicolas Lapierre completed the top 10 for Honda and LADA respectively with Tom Coronel P12 behind Grégoire Demoustier after starting from the pit lane when an oil leak was discovered during the OSCARO.com Repair Time. Coronel should have started alongside Filippi on the front row of the grid before his hopes went awry. Tom Chilton fought back from a trip through the gravel on lap one to finish P13 ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Filippi. Rob Huff pitted his LADA with five laps remaining.

YOKOHAMA DRIVERS’ TROPHY: BENNANI BEST BUT MICHELISZ JUST BETTER

Norbert Michelisz clinched his second Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy by four points ahead of Mehdi Bennani as the title rivals claimed a win apiece in Qatar. Hugo Valente was second in race one with Michelisz, Stefano D’Aste and Tom Coronel next up followed by Tom Chilton and John Filippi. Home hero Nasser Al-Attiyah took the final point when Grégoire Demoustier pitted with one lap left. Michelisz won race two from Bennani, Valente, Demoustier, Coronel, Chilton, Al-Attiyah and Filippi.

RACE WINNER QUOTES (full transcript available at http://media.fiawtcc.com)


José María López (race one winner):
 “We worked hard from the beginning, we managed to have a great car for the race, really well balanced. I was pulling away a lot, which showed we have a fantastic car and it’s always nice to finish the season with a win. It’s a shame the season has finished because now there is a long wait but I cannot wait to be at the first race of next year. I got hit from behind in Turn 4 in race two and lost many positions and I was P12. There was a lot of time on the track behind the safety car and when I wanted to recover it was too late. I had fun but the second race is always a war when you start from the back.”

Yvan Muller (race two winner): “The main target was to try to win at least one of the two races of the day and finally I could do it. The weekend was tough for us and I give a hard time to my team and to my boys but they did a fantastic job. Finally in the last race I had a very good pace and I was fast, I was even faster in the race than I was in qually, which is a bit of surprise because I think that’s the first time. But it was a good event for me and like José said I would like to thank all of the Citroën team, particularly all of my team-mates because the level of the team with four drivers working all together to push up the level and thanks to them and particularly to Seb. I wish him good luck for his future. And with Filippi, it was not my target to overtake him because I knew he had the penalty. But when he started to close the gates it was my signal to go for it and he came on my side and there was contact in the braking.”

RACE RESULTS: Results and points from: http://media.fiawtcc.com/race-of-qatar/

RACE FACTS:
Race one pole position (presented by DHL):
 José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
Race one Yokohama Performer: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
Race two pole position (presented by DHL): John Filippi (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
Race two Yokohama Performer: Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: Provisional standings at http://media.fiawtcc.com/statistics/

*All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation