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José María López to leave WTCC for Formula E

Double World Touring Car champion José María López will leave the WTCC at the end of the year, it has been confirmed, with the Argentine remaining in the Citroën family with a move to DS Virgin Racing in Formula E.

With Citroën ending its factory involvement in the WTCC at the end of the current season, López’s future had been the subject of much speculation in recent months.

Now it has been confirmed that the 2014 and 2015 WTCC champion will remain within the Citroën family, spearheading the assault of its sister brand, DS automobiles, in the 2016 / 2017 Formula E season.

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During his time in the WTCC, López has been a dominant force, claiming 27 wins out of 63 starts to-date. The 33-year-old has also been on the podium an incredible 44 times since 2013, an incredible 69.8% success rate.

López was originally handed his WTCC début by Eurosport Events in 2013, when he competed in his home race at the wheel of an ageing Wiechers-Sport BMW 320si. The appearance, which saw him take victory in only his second-ever race, was enough to convince Citroën to give him a works seat in 2014 and the rest is history.

François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events which gave López his WTCC début, paid tribute to the two-time champion, who looks on course to add a third crown in 2016.

“Pechito was a prince of touring cars in Argentina when he came to the WTCC and he will leave at the end of 2016 as the king of World Touring Cars,” said Ribeiro.

“It has been an honour to have had a driver of Pechito’s calibre competing in the championship. Since joining the WTCC, he’s raised its level, and forced established stars and teams to significantly raise their game. He became the first non-European FIA world champion since Ayrton Senna, and has probably opened the way for the next generation of Argentinean touring car drivers to join the world stage.

“We respect his aspirations to achieve success in a variety of motorsport disciplines. It’s always a great story to see a top driver switching categories at his peak. Clashes of international calendars and marketing obligations don’t make it easy nowadays. Pechito’s background is mainly in single-seaters and we have no doubt he will be at the top of Formula E with DS Virgin.

“Thank you Campeone. See you at Termas de Río Hondo for more home emotions, and the first of 10 great WTCC races before your farewell.”

López’s next appearance in the WTCC will be at his home event on the 5-7 August, which kick starts the ‘fly-away’ part of the WTCC season, with ten more events until the end of the season.

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