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José María López admits to being ‘very lucky’ after home win

José María López admits that he is a ‘very lucky guy’ after claiming another home win in the World Touring Car Championship in Argentina, extending his points lead despite an engine change on Saturday.

López managed to open up his points lead by a further 16 points at his home WTCC event, even though he had to start from the back of the grid in the Opening Race due to a post-qualifying engine change on his Citroën.

The reigning champion charged through the field unabated in that opening race to take fifth, whilst victory in the Main Race from pole position was secured when he got past early race leader Norbert Michelisz with a calculated move at the halfway stage.

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“Of course I knew I had a good chance in the second race but already Norbert did a better start than me, which I knew would be possible here,” explained López, who had started on the back foot after a below-par getaway. “He moved very well and did a fantastic defensive manoeuvre in Turn 2.”

The crucial move for the lead came when, with added pressure from the second C-Elysée of Yvan Muller, López was able to slip up the inside of Michelisz’s Honda into Turn 9.

“I have to say thank you to the team and especially to Yvan who allowed me to have a go at Michelisz without disturbing me. Without that it would have been very difficult.

“When we went side-to-side for Turn 9 something happened because he defended from Yvan and let the inside clear for me.”

López added that the team went for the precautionary engine change ahead of the Opening Race as they had confidence in his ability to scythe his way back through the field, from 18th on the grid.

“The team and I decided to replace the engine as we thought the circuit would give me the chance to work my way back up the field,” added the Argentine. “The opening race was exciting. My Citroën C-Elysée performed perfectly and I managed to climb two places without risking wrecking the car.

“It’s very important to win here in my country. I didn’t expect to be able to pull out points with the engine problem we had. I’m a very lucky guy and thank you to everyone who has been here pushing for me.

“One less race to go and it’s looking good [for the title].”

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