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Citroën not expecting much passing at new Marrakech circuit

Reigning World Touring Car Champion José María López is not expecting there to be much overtaking at this weekend’s race weekend in Morocco, citing the short, narrow and slow circuit as the reason.

The only African circuit on the calendar has been completely overhauled for 2016, with the former temporary street circuit upgraded to be a semi-permanent racing venue.

However the changes have resulted in a dramatic shortening of the circuit, which loses its long straight and chicanes to be replaced by a shorter circuit with more corners but a lower top speed.

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“I really liked the old circuit, which was like nothing else on the planet,” said López, who won in the city on his début with Citroën in 2014 and again in 2015. “After my preparations on the Citroën Racing simulator, I get the impression the new track will be very slow. We won’t go quicker than 200 kph and I can’t really see any good overtaking spots.

“The track seems narrow, without any big turns where you might slip past a rival. It’s going to be a real challenge, particularly in qualifying, with the course being so short. The times are going to be very close and the slightest error will be more costly here than elsewhere.

“In any case, I’m happy to be back in Morocco after such a cold start to the season! The atmosphere is always terrific in Marrakech.”

López’s team-mate Yvan Muller has only half the points of the Argentine, with a 52-point gulf already existing between the drivers.

Muller also believes that overtaking in this weekend’s races will be particularly difficult.

“Like José, I’m sad that the straight sections have been shortened to such an extent,” said the former four-time champion. “We’ll never get into sixth gear, and maybe not even fifth.

“We’ll need to keep up a good pace on this track. On paper, overtaking opportunities will be limited, but I’ll reserve judgement until I get out there.

“I’m hoping for a good weekend – better than at the Hungaroring. Yes, I got my first podium of the year, but it’s wins I’m aiming for!”

Citroën will continue to carry the full 80 kg of compensation weight this weekend, as the manufacturer has done for all three prior meetings of the current campaign.

The marque have also confirmed that Moroccan racer Mehdi Bennani will continue to form part of their MAC3 line-up in his independent Sébastien Loeb Racing-run C-Elysée.

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