Citroën’s Yvan Muller says that he did just what he had to do to beat team-mate José María López in the second World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife to take his second win of the season.
Muller started the race from fifth on the grid but was up to second by the time the cars entered the Nordschleife. Behind the Honda of Tiago Monteiro, Muller was unable to find a way past on the twisty section of the circuit, but the Frenchman was then able to unleash the power of his Citroën on the long Döttinger Hohe straight at the end of the lap to take the lead.
The four-time champion was unable to pull out the gap which some may have expected, however, and he struggled compared to Monteiro on the twisty section as a result of choosing a lower downforce set-up.
Eventually Muller prevailed for his 43rd WTCC win, despite López charging through the field on the final lap, passing both works’ Hondas on the long straight and finishing within just 0.173 seconds of Muller.
“When we started the last lap I made a small mistake on the GP circuit and then I said ‘OK let’s slow down’ and keep some margin,” said Muller. “Anywhere on the Nordschleife is difficult to overtake.
“The strategy was to go very light on the downforce and that’s why the car was very tricky to drive, but the car was very fast on the straight. On the last lap he [López] was trying to overtake, so I just did what I needed to do to beat him. At the last corner there was a spot of rain, so I didn’t take any risks. I braked early to be a little bit sure, but it was nice to beat him.”
Despite a narrow winning margin ahead of championship leader López, Muller remained confident that he could have remained ahead of the Argentinean if the race had continued for longer.
“I could see where he [López] was on the previous lap, and due to our strategy on downforce, we knew that if we can keep ahead on the last corner before the straight that he wouldn’t have a good chance to overtake, so I knew that it would be tricky for López to pass.”
Although Muller also finished third in race one, he loses a further eight points to López in the drivers’ championship battle, with the margin now standing at 50 points.