Yvan Muller has admitted that he was ‘surprised’ to have been able to improve his pace in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) races in Qatar, with the Frenchman winning the season finale in Losail.
Muller could manage just eighth fastest in qualifying, having struggled for single lap pace throughout the early stages of the event.
Whilst in race one the Frenchman could do little to improve that position, eventually finishing in sixth and losing further points to Sébastien Loeb in the battle for the runner-up position, race two was where Muller was able to push.
From third on the grid the four-time champion benefitted immediately when Tom Coronel was unable to take up his front row grid position due to an oil leak.
Then when pole man John Filippi made a false start, Muller was in a prime position to score his sixth win of the season.
“The main target was to try to win at least one of the two races of the day and finally I could do it,” said Muller, after he secured second overall in the championship by just one point from team-mate Loeb. “The weekend was tough for us and I gave a hard time to my team and to my boys, but they did a fantastic job.
“Finally in the last race I had very good pace and I was fast. I was even faster in the race than I was in qualifying, which is a bit of surprise because I think that’s the first time. But it was a good event for me.
“I would like to thank all of the Citroën team, particularly all of my team-mates. The level of the team, with four drivers working together to push up the level [is very high], so thanks to them and particularly to Séb; I wish him good luck for his future.”
Muller came close to disaster when the race restarted after a lengthy safety car period on lap five when leader Filippi turned in on him heading through the opening turns.
“With Filippi, it was not my target to overtake him because I knew he had the penalty,” added Muller. “But when he started to close the gates it was my signal to go for it and he came on my side and there was contact in the braking [area].”
Having once again finished as runner-up to José María López, Muller insists that his focus will now turn to winning the title in Citroën’s final WTCC year in 2016.
“If I would not have that [winning the title] in my mind I would not re-sign the contract, so of course I am motivated on that,” added Muller. “But José is a fast driver, he’s full of confidence and for two years he’s been the best driver of the championship so it will be tough. I want to try to take the challenge until the end.”