Citroën World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) drivers José María López and Yvan Muller say that they met their targets in qualifying, with López taking outright pole for race one and Muller on the reverse-grid pole for race two.
López was imperious throughout all of Saturday’s sessions, topping first and second practice to add to his timesheet topping performance in Friday testing. The Argentine then went on to top two of the three qualifying sessions, with only team-mate Ma Qing Hua and Muller beating him in Q1.
Pole in Morocco marks an incredible fifth consecutive pole position for López in the WTCC, with the reigning champion admitting that he felt confident heading into qualifying.
“On this circuit, every lap is complicated,” said López. “A few things have changed since last year – some of the tyre stacks have been replaced by walls in the chicanes, for example.
“I was feeling confident after Q2, as I’d produced a very good lap once we had found the perfect setup. But to win pole position, I would have to do the same again in Q3! It’s been a perfect weekend so far. I just hope that continues tomorrow.”
Muller has been hit with a five-place grid penalty following the races in Argentina, incurred as a result of contact with Mehdi Bennani. Consequently, the Frenchman ceded that he was not aiming for the top spot in qualifying.
“Because of the penalty I was given at Termas, I had to alter my approach to qualifying,” explained Muller. “On a circuit like this, where the gaps between cars are so small, aiming for tenth place is almost as tricky as vying for pole position. The team gave me a target time, I met it, and things eventually worked out for us as I finished tenth. I’m hoping for my first win of the year tomorrow.”
Citroën Racing Team Principal Yves Matton praised the performance of all of the marques drivers, with Ma qualifying in third despite brake issues and Sébastien Loeb taking eighth on the grid for race one, resulting in third for race two.
“All our drivers have stepped up and performed so far this weekend,” said Matton. “A special mention goes to Pechito, who put in a flawless performance to continue a run of pole positions that began in Shanghai last year.
“Yvan is in with a good shot in race 2, and is keen to take this opportunity to close the gap on the championship leaders.
“Congratulations, too, to Mehdi Bennani, who made excellent use of his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC [to qualify in second]. Now it’s just a question of turning these performances into victories!”