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Praise for night race conditions from Citroën drivers

Citroën’s World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) drivers have praised the night race set-up at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, with pace setter José María López calling the visibility under floodlights ‘as good as in broad daylight’.

López topped every single session on Thursday and, whilst the World Champion has previous night racing experience from his time in Argentina, it was his first time under full floodlights in the WTCC in first free practice.

“I have already raced at night several times in Argentina, but this was my first time in the WTCC,” said López, whose best lap of 2:01.859 was two tenths faster than Hugo Valente. “It’s a fantastic circuit and the lighting system is so good that we can see almost as well at night as we can in broad daylight. It was an interesting and very pleasant experience.”

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Like López, Yvan Muller also has previous night racing experience, harking back to his days in the British championship when night races were held between 1999 and 2001.

“I think racing at night creates a very different atmosphere from what we are used to, even though it doesn’t change much in terms of how we drive,” added Muller, who only just got within a second of López in second practice. “Sometimes, the lights reflect in your rear-view mirrors, but you quickly get used to it. The only real difference is that the sky is black instead of blue!

“The track is very smooth, with almost no ups and downs. Even the rumble strips are virtually flat. It’s not a very exciting circuit, but it’s an interesting one all the same.”

Meanwhile Sébastien Loeb was unfazed by racing at night, having competed in a wide variety of conditions during his days in rallying. The Frenchman is instead focussed on securing second overall in the championship on his swansong for Citroën as a works driver for the marque.

“For me, it doesn’t make much difference whether I’m driving in the day or at night,” said Loeb. “It’s not easy finding the right setup for this circuit, however. The long, fast bends are really tricky to negotiate.

“Obviously, this last weekend in the WTCC is a special one for me. So I want to try and enjoy these moments with my technical team and finish on a good note.

“Hanging on to second place in the World Championship would be satisfying, but you never know what can happen in the races, particularly in the first few turns.”

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