World Touring Car Championship leader José María López says he is “thrilled” to have won the second race of the day in France on Sunday, with the victory setting a new record for the WTCC.
By winning the second race of the day from 18th on the grid, López has smashed the record for the lowest grid position from which a race was won, with the previous record having been held by Andy Priaulx for his 2009 victory at Oschersleben in Germany.
López had been forced to start from the back of the grid for both of Sunday’s races after his and team-mate Sébastien Loeb’s qualifying times were disallowed due to an irregularity with their fuel cut-off system on their cars. Both drivers, and López in particular, made light work of cutting through the field due to the advantage their cars have over the competition.
The result, combined with López’s fourth-placed finish in race one, leaves the Argnetine on top of the championship standings, 12 points ahead of Loeb and 20 points ahead of Yvan Muller.
“Even when you start from pole position, winning is never easy,” said López. “You can’t imagine how thrilled I am to have won a race after starting from 18th on the grid! I made a cautious start, but I still managed to move up five or six places by the first corner.
“There were cars all over the place at the chicane and that’s where I went past Yvan. That was the key to the race, as I would never have been able to get ahead in normal circumstances. I attacked to work my way up the field, but there were no low blows in the pack! Of course, the safety car helped me to make up ground on Tiago Monteiro, but sometimes you need a bit of luck to win.”
López also holds a remarkable 50% win rate in the WTCC so far, having won three of the six races he has entered since 2013.