Yvan Muller was victorious once again

Yvan Muller extended his already huge points lead in the FIA World Touring Car Drivers’ Championship standings with a comfortable win in the series’ maiden race on Argentine soil at the Autodromo Termas de Río Hondo.

But the weekend’s festivities were dominated by local hero José María López, who claimed a dominant victory in the second race to cap off a sensational debut weekend.


Yvan Muller dominated proceedings in the opening race

Race 1 – Muller triumphs in South American opener

The opening race saw Muller lead an all-Chevrolet podium, finishing five seconds clear of Pepe Oriola, while the Frenchman’s RML teammate Tom Chilton was third.

Chilton triggered an aborted start to the race when he failed to properly line up on his grid slot at the race’s rolling start.

After another warm-up lap and perhaps a little rattled, Chilton promptly lost two places from his front-row starting position when the race got going, running wide at the first corner and allowing Norbert Michelisz and a fast-starting Oriola (up from fifth) through into the top-three.

While Muller skipped into the lead that was never challenged, Chilton set about trying to recover lost ground, passing Oriola for third on the fourth lap, before reclaiming second place from Michelisz on the next tour.

The Hungarian lost a further two spots to Oriola and Michel Nykjær, before he was involved in a bit of argy-bargy with James Nash, who ran into the back of his Honda while also clipping Nykjær, an incident which allowed an opportunistic Gabriele Tarquini to jump into fourth place past the lot of them.

Also making up ground was WTCC debutant José María López, who was steadily moving up the order from his ninth-placed starting position and performing well ahead of his fellow BMW runners, none of whom managed to finish in the points. The local driver passed James Nash for sixth place on Lap 8, before moving ahead of Nykjær on the penultimate lap to claim class honours from the Dane in the Yokohama Independent Trophy. It would get better in Race 2…

Another pair of drivers who staged even more impressive charges through the field were reigning champion Rob Huff, who managed to work his way up to eighth place from the back of the grid, while Tiago Monteiro also drove well to claim the final championship point from 22nd on the grid.

You can watch the complete race here:


2013 FIA WTCC Race of Argentina – Race 1 Final Classification (12 laps):

Driver Team Result YIT
1. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet 22:56.896  
2. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 4.924 Y
3. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 7.813  
4. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 7.989  
5. José María López ARG Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 8.846 Y
6. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 10.214 Y
7. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 12.833
8. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 13.960  
9. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 14.636 Y
10. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 14.870
11. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 15.743 Y
12. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 16.619  
13. Hugo Valente FRA Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 17.333 Y
14. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 19.858 Y
15. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 20.247 Y
16. Fernando Monje ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 23.563 Y
17. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 23.782 Y
18. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 30.675 Y
19. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 33.536 Y
20. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 36.459 Y
  Not Classified Result  
DNF. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA 8 laps  
NCF. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW 7 laps
DNF. Mikhail Kozlowskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA 2 laps

“Y” denotes Yokohama Independent Trophy competitor.


Lopez skipped away from pole position and was never headed

Race 2 – Lopez caps off dream debut!

To the delight of the thousands of spectators who flocked to the circuit, local driver José María López created history by becoming the first driver from Argentina to win a World Touring Car Championship race. More incredibly, the thirty-year-old achieved the feat on his maiden outing in a car he hadn’t driven until this weekend.

As was the case in Race 1, victory came from pole position, with the three-time Super TC2000 champion’s tenth-fastest qualifying effort on Saturday proving good enough for pole position on the partially-shuffled grid.

With his rear-wheel-drive BMW giving him superb traction off the grid, López shot off into the lead, leaving fellow front-row starter Michel Nykjær for dead as the Dane fluffed his start, quickly getting overtaken by Tiago Monteiro from fourth on the grid.

Lopez celebrates an incredible maiden winThe early threat looked to be Race 1 winner Yvan Muller, who had incredibly gained seven places in the first two laps to be third, although his passage was helped by Tiago Monteiro the under-siege Nykjær wide with an attempted overtaking move.

It wasn’t long until Muller was on the back of second-placed Monteiro, and the two set about whittling down López’s lead.

But disaster would strike for Muller and Monteiro on Lap 5. The Frenchman tried an late outside overtaking move on the Honda driver as they braked for Turn 5, only to succeed in collecting the hapless Portuguese driver and biffing him into the gravel trap.

Monteiro was able to quickly rejoin proceedings, but Muller was predictably awarded a drive-through penalty for his brain fade, with the resulting penalty consigning him to a finish outside the points. Monteiro, meanwhile, would charge hard to finish sixth, although it was a scant reward given a potential win was on the cards.

Monteiro’s Honda teammate Tarquini was able to salvage more pride for the Japanese carmaker with a solid drive to second place, but it wasn’t enough to deprive López from a popular and richly-deserved maiden win.

Pepe Oriola backed up his Race 1 podium effort with a repeat performance in Race 2, finishing ahead of Michel Nykjær, who took advantage his championship rival Muller’s blunder to claim another hatful of points, although he still sits 132 points behind the Frenchman in the championship standings. He will need a major result come the next round at Sonoma if he’s to prevent Muller from wrapping up the title when the field heads to the United States next month.

You can watch Race 2 below:


2013 FIA WTCC Race of Argentina – Race 1 Final Classification (11 laps):

Driver Team Result YIT
1. José María López ARG Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC BMW 20:28.525 Y
2. Gabriele Tarquini ITA Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 3.619  
3. Pepe Oriola ESP Tuenti Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 3.989 Y
4. Michel Nykjær DEN NIKA Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 4.945 Y
5. Norbert Michelisz HUN Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 7.135
6. Tiago Monteiro POR Castrol Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 7.517
7. James Nash GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 13.866 Y
8. Hugo Valente FRA Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 16.422 Y
9. Tom Coronel NED ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 16.767
10. Stefano D’Aste ITA PB Sport BMW 320TC BMW + 18.320 Y
11. Alex MacDowall GBR Bamboo Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 19.073 Y
12. Tom Chilton GBR RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 19.634  
13. Yvan Muller FRA RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T Chevrolet + 20.232  
14. Fernando Monje ESP Campos Racing Team SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 23.092 Y
15. Franz Engstler DEU Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 23.515 Y
16. Mikhail Kozlowskiy RUS LADA Sport Granta LADA + 26.544
17. René Münnich DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT + 27.050 Y
18. Darryl O’Young HKG ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC BMW + 36.055 Y
19. Charles Ka-Ki Ng HKG Liqui Moly Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 36.476 Y
20. James Thompson GBR LADA Sport Granta LADA + 1 lap  
21. Mehdi Bennani MOR Scuderia Proteam BMW 320TC BMW + 3 laps Y
  Not Classified Result  
DNF. Robert Huff GBR Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 7 laps  
DNF. Marc Basseng DEU Münnich Motorsport SEAT León WTCC SEAT 4 laps  

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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