Triple World Touring Car Champion José María López makes his final appearance in the championship with Citroën this weekend in Qatar, with the Argentine looking to ‘end on a high note’.
Both López and Citroën are leaving the championship after Friday evening’s races, having enjoyed three years of success and dominance in the WTCC.
For López, who has been occupied with starting a full season in Formula E recently, the end of an era only recent dawned on him as he was preparing for the event.
“When I was on the Citroën Racing simulator preparing for this race, I realised that I was doing certain things for the very last time,” said López. “That will be the case a lot in Qatar, where I will be doing the track walk, taking part in the briefings, pulling on my racing attire, checking the radio, lining up on the grid and, I hope, stepping onto the podium for the last time!
“I’m expecting a really special weekend. Each and every moment will be really emotional and I will try to enjoy it with the whole team.”
During his four-year stint in the WTCC, López has truly built up some impressive statistics. Three championships, 29 wins (including one in a BMW on his début in 2013), 37 podiums and 1,333 points have gone the Argentines way so far.
López was also keen to thank Citroën for resurrecting his career, having spent several years racing domestically in Argentina before the French manufacturer chose him to be a part of their assault on the World Championship.
“No one can take away from us what we have achieved over the past three years, but I’m dreaming of ending on a high note.
“I would like to thank Citroën, who gave me the opportunity to come back to Europe and relaunch my career. Everything that is happening to me today and everything that will happen to me in the future is down to our time in the FIA WTCC!”
Looking ahead to Friday’s races, López is looking to repeat the form he enjoyed in the 2015 season finale, where he took victory in the opening race, having also started from pole position.
“I am happy to be ending the season at Losail, a circuit where I felt completely at ease from the first lap of free practice in 2015. But the fact that we performed well here last year doesn’t guarantee anything; our rivals have come on a lot in the space of a year!
“Driving at night is pretty nice, although with all the lighting we don’t really feel like we’re driving in the dark.”
First free practice takes place at 16:00 local time (13:00 GMT, 14:00 CET) on Thursday.