Yvan Muller has inherited pole position for tomorrow’s World Touring Car Championship races after his Citroën team-mates Sébastien Loeb and José María López were excluded for technical infringements.
Loeb and López were thrown out of qualifying due to an irregularity with the fuel cut-off system on the C-Elysée used by the Frenchman and the Argentine. All five cars that took part in Q3 were tested.
“We couldn’t wait to get out and race on a ‘real’ circuit to assess our cars’ true potential in relation to the competition,” said Citroën Racing Team Principal Yves Matton. “It was fantastic to claim the top three spots in qualifying, but we were disappointed when we heard about the punishment handed out to Seb and Pechito.
“It was a failure in a standard component sold by one of our suppliers. The valve doesn’t do anything to improve performance: it’s there to ensure safety, an area in which Citroën Racing has always tried to be ahead of its time. Our drivers will have their work cut out to recover tomorrow, but they have the talent to go out and get a positive result.”
Commenting on the exclusion of his team-mates, Muller admits that it offers him the chance to make up for lost ground in the championship after his Marrakech crash. “I’ve been handed pole position by default, but I don’t take any pleasure in it,” said the reigning champion. “Now I’m going to go out and try to win to make up some of the ground I lost in Marrakech.”
As a result of their exclusion, both Loeb and López will have to start both of Sunday’s races from the back of the grid after all of their qualifying times were disallowed.
The exclusion of the top two Citroën’s also affects the reverse grid for race two, with Mehdi Bennani now starting from pole position with René Münnich alongside.