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Citroën bows out after 3 WTCC World titles

The final meeting of the FIA WTCC 2016 in Qatar also saw the end of Citroën Racing’s involvement in the competition. To mark the occasion, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC claimed its fiftieth victory in three seasons.

In his farewell to elite motorsport, Yvan Muller secured second place in the World Championship, behind his teammate José María López. Now over, Citroën’s track racing adventure has brought it three consecutive world titles.

Things were very quiet at the Losail International Circuit until the early afternoon, when the drivers came out for qualifying.

José María López made a big impact in Q1, clocking the fastest time with 1m59.788s, one second faster than the time that won him pole in 2015! In Q2, Yvan Muller and Pechito López immediately claimed the top two spots, before the red flag was brought out. When the action resumed, López once again dipped under the two-minute mark, enough to put him top of the timing screens again, just ahead of Muller.

Q3 was an unusual affair. Mehdi Bennani was first out and set a good marker. Norbert Michelisz then crashed off, causing a long delay. After the interruption, both Yvan Muller and José María López were looking good, but both slipped up at the same turn. The few tenths of a second that those errors cost them meant the Argentine driver had to settle for the third best time, with the Frenchman in fourth. It was Mehdi Bennani, then, who clinched the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC’s 31st pole position!

A few minutes later, the SLR team’s three drivers were out on track representing Citroën in MAC3. Bennani, Chilton and Demoustier produced a flawless performance to score maximum points for the manufacturer.

The opening race got under way at 9.20 p.m., long after night had fallen in the Middle East. Having finished tenth in qualifying, Tom Chilton was the man in pole position, with Gabriele Tarquini alongside him. When the lights went out, Chilton was the first man to turn, while Yvan Muller managed to haul himself into fifth place. Back in the chasing pack, things were going less well for José María López, who got run into by Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese driver ended up crashing off, which brought the safety car out, followed by the red flag.

Once the track had been cleaned, the race got under way again. Tom Chilton went out too wide on the first curve and Tarquini took advantage to sneak past! A little further back, Yvan Muller moved up one more place into fourth.

Tarquini, then, emerged victorious in the opening race, ahead of Chilton, Huff and Muller. Pechito López staged an impressive recovery to finish ninth.

Fortunately, the team’s mechanics had time to repair the cars’ bodywork before the final race of the year. Poleman Bennani maintained his lead at the first turn, with José María López just behind after getting an excellent start from the second row. Yvan Muller held on to fourth place, with Thed Björk in third.

But once again, the chasing pack was full of incident, and the safety car made an appearance after just one lap. A few drops of rain then came down, but certainly not enough to justify rain tyres

Shortly after the resumption, Yvan Muller was ousted from fourth spot after a powerful overtaking manoeuvre from Michelisz. A few laps later, Pechito López was passed by Björk.

It looked like the race order would remain unchanged until the end: Bennani, Björk, López, Michelisz, Muller. But with just a few laps to go, Tiago Monteiro got the better of his friend and rival Yvan Muller. For Yvan, however, this result mattered little. The race marked the end of a magnificent career which saw him win four FIA WTCC world titles and break all the records in the discipline. Upon returning to the pitlane, he received a long ovation from the members of the Citroën Total team. There were red eyes all round, showing just what an emotional moment this was in the history of motorsport.

    35 meetings and 69 races
    31 pole positions (89%): 21 for José María López, 8 for Yvan Muller, 1 each for Sébastien Loeb and Mehdi Bennani.
    308 starts: 69 for José María López, 68 for Yvan Muller, 47 for Sébastien Loeb, 46 for Mehdi Bennani, 34 for Ma Qing Hua, 22 each for Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier.
    50 race wins (72%): 21 for José María López, 11 for Yvan Muller, 6 for Sébastien Loeb, 2 each for Ma Qing Hua and Mehdi Bennani, 1 for Tom Chilton.
    45 fastest race laps (65%): 26 for José María López, 8 for Yvan Muller, 7 for Sébastien Loeb, 2 for Ma Qing Hua, 1 each for Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton.
    119 podium finishes (57% of the maximum possible): 47 for José María López, 34 for Yvan Muller, 20 for Sébastien Loeb, 8 for Ma Qing Hua, 5 each for Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton.
    246 points finishes (80%)
    3736 points scored in the Drivers’ World Championship
    3029 points scored in the Manufacturers’ World Championship


Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “This was the ‘Red Army’s’ last appearance in the FIA WTCC. I would like to thank every member of the team for their commitment, their constant thirst for improvement and their willingness to represent Citroën in what was a new discipline for the team. I will cite two figures to demonstrate Citroën Racing’s know-how: 89% of pole positions and 72% of race wins in three seasons. Thanks must go, too, to José María López and Yvan Muller. I have been lucky enough to work with these two great Champions, who are also great men. And I cannot help thinking of Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua, who also contributed so much to this success, which I will always remember as an amazing adventure for the people involved.”

José María López: “It wasn’t an easy last race for us! To a large extent, the result was determined in qualifying. We felt that the track changed during the long delay. In any case, we can be proud of what we have all accomplished together. Tonight, I’m not really thinking about me. I’m thinking about Yvan. I want to thank him for what he has given me. I have learnt a lot from working with him and I have enormous respect for him. He has decided to bow out of motorsport while he’s still at the stop and I wish him all the best in his new life.”

Yvan Muller: “There are lots of feelings swimming around in my head, particularly after Pechito’s words and the team’s celebrations. It wasn’t an easy decision to take and this is an emotional moment for me. All good things must come to an end and I am happy to be retiring now, with these opponents around me. We have had some tough scraps at times, but there has always been respect between us, and that’s why I love this sport. My overwhelming feeling is one of joy. I’ve got lots of things to do, what with my team, developing young drivers, and my family. I will have plenty to keep me busy!”


1. Mehdi Bennani (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
2. Thed Björk (Volvo S60 WTCC)
3. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
4. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
5. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
…10. Tom Chilton (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
…18. Grégoire Demoustier (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)


1. Citroën


1. Gabriele Tarquini (Lada Vesta WTCC)
2. Tom Chilton (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
3. Rob Huff (Honda Civic WTCC)
4. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
5. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
…9. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
…15. Grégoire Demoustier (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
…16. Mehdi Bennani (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
Fastest lap: Gabriele Tarquini (2m01.760s)


1. Mehdi Bennani (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
2. Thed Björk (Volvo S60 WTCC)
3. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
4. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
5. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC)
6. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
…12. Grégoire Demoustier (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
…DNF Tom Chilton (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
Fastest lap: Nick Catsburg (2m02.550s)


    José-María López: 381 points
    Yvan Muller: 257 pts
    Tiago Monteiro: 214 pts
    Norbert Michelisz: 212 pts
    Mehdi Bennani: 206 pts
    Rob Huff: 200 pts
    Nick Catsburg: 175 pts
    Tom Chilton: 163 pts


    Citroën: 957 points
    Honda: 675 pts
    Lada: 536 pts
    Polestar: 321 pts