José María López won an uneventful opening World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race on the streets of Vila Real in Portugal, ahead of Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb and Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz.
López lead the race from lights-to-flag ahead of team-mate Loeb, who had no answer to the reigning champion’s pace in the race. The win is the fifth of the season for the Argentine and his second consecutive win, further extending his championship lead over Yvan Muller to 63 points.
Michelisz completed the podium, having got off to a strong start to pass Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, who was also passed by the works’ Honda duo of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro.
Valente showed he had the pace, but self-inflicted damage came when he fought back against Citroën’s Ma Qing Hua at the start of the race, having got off to a slow start to lose four positions. The Frenchman rubbed the left-rear of Ma’s car going through the high-speed opening turns, which caused damage to his front-right wheel and forced him to crawl back to the pits.
Valente’s demise left Ma to finish sixth, after the Chinese driver got off to a strong start from tenth on the grid. Crucially, Ma also passed team-mate Muller at the start to deny the Frenchman crucial points in the championship battle, with Muller finishing seventh and unable to challenge for position.
Jaap van Lagen was the top LADA driver in eighth, ahead of team-mates Nicky Catsburg in ninth and Rob Huff in tenth, the Brit spending the entire race trying to pass the Dutchman in front.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mehdi Bennani finished where he started in 11th, ahead of ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel in 12th, who ended up as the top Chevrolet driver.
The closest battle in the race was between Campos Racing’s John Filippi and Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Grégoire Demoustier, who spent the entire race squabbling for 15th position.
Nika Racing’s Néstor Girolami failed to finish, retiring after the opening lap with an oil pressure problem on his Civic. The Argentine managed to return to the pits, where his car was repaired for race two.
|1||37||José María LÓPEZ||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||13||13 LAPS||2:00.873||1|
|2||9||Sébastien LOEB||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||13||1.519||2:01.216||2|
|3||5||Y||Norbert MICHELISZ||Zengő Motorsport||Honda Civic WTCC||13||5.391||2:01.517||4|
|4||2||Gabriele TARQUINI||Castrol Honda WTC Team||Honda Civic WTCC||13||5.711||2:01.775||5|
|5||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||Castrol Honda WTC Team||Honda Civic WTCC||13||9.402||2:01.913||6|
|6||33||MA Qing Hua||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||13||12.807||2:01.331||10|
|7||68||Yvan MULLER||Citroën Total WTCC||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||13||21.126||2:02.090||9|
|8||46||Jaap VAN LAGEN||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||13||22.324||2:02.615||8|
|9||10||Nick CATSBURG||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||13||27.636||2:02.901||7|
|10||12||Rob HUFF||LADA Sport Rosneft||LADA Vesta WTCC||13||28.86||2:02.777||13|
|11||25||Y||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Citroën C-Elysée WTCC||13||29.395||2:02.934||11|
|12||4||Y||Tom CORONEL||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||29.853||2:02.810||15|
|13||26||Y||Stefano D’ASTE||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||34.158||2:03.218||14|
|14||3||Y||Tom CHILTON||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||47.443||2:02.867||16|
|15||27||Y||John FILIPPI||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||1:06.056||2:04.916||17|
|16||11||Y||Grégoire DEMOUSTIER||Craft-Bamboo Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||13||1:06.927||2:04.969||18|
|R||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||Nika International||Honda Civic WTCC||5||8 Laps||2:03.264||12|
|R||7||Y||Hugo VALENTE||Campos Racing||Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1||1||12 Laps||–||3|