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José María López says Tiago Monteiro ‘took the risk’ and lost

Citroën’s José María López says that Honda’s Tiago Monteiro “took the risk and lost his race” after the pair collided in the second World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race in France, which López went on to win.

Having started from eighth on the grid, by lap seven the reigning champion was on the back of Monteiro’s Civic and looking to pass. López went to the outside line heading into turn one, holding his position through the corner and the pair made contact on the exit of the turn as Monteiro appeared to come across on the Citroën driver.

Following the race the incident was investigated by the stewards of the meeting, but no further action was deemed necessary and López was able to keep his fourth win of the season, which he had secured a few laps later when he passed Norbert Michelisz.

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“There were three key moments in the race,” explained López. “On the first lap I managed to pass Ma [Qing Hua] without losing time and contact with the leaders.

“Then the second key moment was when I was trying on the outside with Tiago. He just came to me, I turned and I couldn’t do anything. It was a shame for him. He took the risk but he lost his race.

“I cannot say anything because I don’t feel guilty for one per cent of the manoeuvre. He ran into me and I don’t feel any responsibility for him spinning off.

“After that I had a few laps when I didn’t know what was going on in the car. The steering was a little bit on the left side. Ma passed me and it was a great fight with him. When I passed him the rhythm I had to catch Michelisz was very good so I knew I had a chance.”

Having had a controversial incident with Monteiro, López then went on to praise Michelisz for the fair defence which he put up, which saw López attempt a similar move around the outside of the Hungarian heading into turn one.

“The last key moment was when I passed him [Michelisz],” added López. “He didn’t push me at all, he knew I was quicker. He has always been very fair with me and I thanked him on the podium.

“It’s fantastic and winning the race is really amazing here for the team as well because we’re at home. There were a few races when I was losing some points but I managed to win strong. It’s very important to me.”

As a result of his win, López restores some of his championship lead over team-mate Yvan Muller, which now stands at 39 points.

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