Citroën Racing have announced that Argentine touring car star José María López will race the marque’s third car in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, alongside Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller.
López, who made his début in the WTCC in Argentina this year, has been testing for the French manufacturer recently and was hotly tipped to secure the third seat in the team.
Citroën Racing Team Principal Yves Matton admitted that the team were excited to be taking on a new challenge, having dominated the world of rallying for much of the past decade.
“After spending the last ten years or so at the top of the WRC [World Rally Championship], we are excited about the idea of writing a new chapter in our shared history with Sébastien Loeb,” said Matton. “We chose the WTCC because it is a form of racing with controlled costs, a genuinely-worldwide race calendar and a lot of media coverage.
“As was the case in cross country / rally-raid and in WRC, we have attempted to secure the best drivers for our team. Yvan Muller has been heavily involved in development of the car, and has been one the driving forces behind the progress we have made. But we also have high expectations of José-María López, who has proven to be very comfortable at the wheel of the C-Elysée WTCC during his first tests…”
López has only competed in two WTCC races to-date, driving in Argentina at the wheel of a Wiechers-Sport BMW. However the 30-year-old impressed on his first outing, including taking victory in only his second-ever race.
The Argentine has a strong touring car pedigree, winning the Argentine national ‘TC2000’ championship in 2008, 2009 and 2012.
Although shifting focus from the WRC to the WTCC, Citroën are not completing leaving the rallying arena. The French manufacturer will also compete with two cars in the top level of rallying, presenting unique logistical challenges to the marque.
“We are embarking on a challenge that is not just sporting, but also technical and logistical,” added Matton. “The entire team has been very enthusiastic and creative in preparing for the coming season as effectively as possible. We are very fortunate to be able to take on this double programme.
“Despite the difficult economic conditions facing the automotive industry, the trust placed in us by the senior management of PSA and the support of our partners have enabled us to implement our plans successfully. We are going to reach more countries, in all four corners of the planet, and we are going to have so many more opportunities to promote Citroën and showcase its Créative Technologie.”