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Citroën hoping to compete ‘on equal terms’ in Hungary

Citroën are looking forward to ‘competing on equal terms’ in the World Touring Car Championship races in Hungary this weekend, according to Team Principal Yves Matton , after the marque left Slovakia not leading any championships for the first time since joining the WTCC.

The event at the Slovakiaring was the last time this year that Citroën will have to carry the maximum 80 kg of compensation weight whilst their rivals run none.

As a result, the team endured one of their toughest weekends in the WTCC to-date, with only José María López achieving a podium result when he took victory in race two.

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Yvan Muller took pole position on Saturday but was unable to convert it into a podium on Sunday after a poor start in the main race, followed by contact from Honda’s Rob Huff in the pack.

“After two races in which we had a severe handicap in relation to our competitors, we can be satisfied that we are still in the mix,” said Matton. “The team prepared exceptionally well for this meeting, as we all knew it was going to be even tougher for us than at Paul Ricard. The engineers found a good balance in the setup, so that our cars would be fast without suffering too much wear on their tyres.

“Unfortunately, Yvan wasn’t able to make the most of his pole position, but Pechito [López] fought hard for a victory that was anything but a foregone conclusion.

“For us, the 2016 season will begin afresh next week in Hungary, when we will be competing on equal terms after the compensation weights are rebalanced.”

For López, victory was far from assured in race two, with the reigning champion reporting an unusual vibration in his car half-way through the race.

“I’m happy to be driving a Citroën that is so quick… and so solid!” exclaimed López. “The start of the main race was important. I got away perfectly and managed to take the lead. I pushed hard to open up a bit of an advantage over the first two laps.

“Then I felt some major vibrations in the rear left of my car. Something was broken. The noise disappeared, then came back again. On all the right-hand turns, I thought I was going to have to pull out!

“I tried to stay focused and asked the team how many laps were left. Nick [Catsburg] seemed to be struggling at the end. I managed to get past him, but it was really tight right down to the wire. That makes this win even more enjoyable.”

Muller accepted that he was partly to blame for his poor start in race two, but still emphasised that he wasn’t happy with the driving standards in the pack.

“I did pretty well in the first race,” said Muller, who was seventh in the opening race. “I started OK and I was satisfied with my final position, given the ballast and the fact that I drove within myself so as not to compromise my chances for the rest of the day.

“We got our starting strategy wrong in the main race. From that moment on, I was out of it, as my car wasn’t set up to drive in the pack. Some of the drivers’ behaviour was a little borderline, but none of that would have happened if I had got a good start!

“I’m hoping for a better time next weekend in Hungary.”

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