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‘You don’t win this easily’ says new World Champion José María López

Citroën’s José María López has insisted that winning the World Touring Car Championship ‘isn’t easy’ despite securing the title with four races to spare in Japan.

López took the title with a second-placed finish in the Main Race at the Twin Ring Motegi – a result which saw him cede the win to team-mate Yvan Muller when he knew that his lead was mathematically unassailable.

The title is the Argentine driver’s third in as many seasons, with his dominance being such that he was a huge 120-point lead at the top of the standings and he has taken seven wins to team-mate and current championship runner-up Muller’s one win.

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Despite making it look easy for a third straight season, López was adamant that his task this year was not an easy one.

“I am one of the happiest people in the world right now,” said the champion. “As I have said before, sometimes behind the cameras people see a hard and cold man but we all are human beings and there are a lot of things and a lot of emotion behind a world championship.

“You don’t win a championship easy, you don’t win a race easily. It’s been a fantastic three years for me. Any driver in the world would like to achieve this.”

López, who will leave the WTCC at the end of the year to join DS Racing in Formula E, paid tribute to both his Citroën team and Eurosport, who introduced him to the WTCC back in 2013 with a then-one-off drive.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be in the best team in the world with great team-mates, a great family, a great girlfriend, everything,” added López. “Everything came together in these last three years and I have to say thank you to everybody.

“It’s not only me, it’s a lot of things. The WTCC that gave me the opportunity but mostly the team, I wouldn’t be here without Citroën today so thank you to them.”

López also paid tribute to team-mate Muller, who without López’s gift would have remained winless in the current season. With the 33-year-old’s gift, Muller has now ended what was one of his longest winless streaks in the championship.

“It was not an easy decision to let Yvan win the Main Race because it’s not easy for me to give up a win,” continued López. “It was more a gesture to Yvan and I hope he doesn’t take it the wrong way. I was thinking maybe it was the wrong decision and that it was disrespectful.

“What I was thinking, and why I did it, is that I wanted to show my respect to him, because he’s a great champion, a great team-mate, we had a fair fight over three years and this is what I felt.

“It was hard, I wanted to win, I wanted to hear my national song on the podium but I don’t know how many times I will have the opportunity to thank him like this. Yvan is still the greatest in the WTCC.”

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