Citroën Racing has dominated a chaotic opening round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship on the streets of Marrakech, with the series’ new drivers, José María López and Sébastien Loeb, taking a win apiece in Sunday’s two races.


Sebastien Loeb

The opening race proved to be a portent of things to come in a chaotic second race, but up at the front it was plain sailing for the three much-fancied Citroëns, with López taking a lights-to-flag victory ahead of fellow front-row starter Loeb. Teammate and reigning champion Yvan Muller rounded out the podium.

The three French machines set themselves up for a 1-2-3 by the first corner, with Muller passing the ROAL Chevrolet of Tom Chilton at the start. From there on, it was plain sailing as they controlled the race, only easing back in the final laps to stage a formation finish a cap off a terrific debut in the WTCC.

Chilton ran to a lonely fourth position to claim ‘best of the rest’ honours, with Tiago Monteiro’s Honda coming in fifth place, but only after a post-race penalty was given to debutante driver Dušan Borković after his Campos Racing team was found to have removed – or not fitted – the SD card in his in-cockpit race camera.

The pair had staged an entertaining battle during the race after Monteiro had managed to jump Borković at the start. The Serbian tried to get his own back at the end of Lap 4 at the final corner, but only succeeded in giving Monteiro’s Honda a hefty whack in the back, which was enough to dislodge the Civic’s rear bumper. Borković was through, leaving Monteiro to briefly fend off the attentions of Norbert Michelisz, only for the Hungarian driver to lose power in the closing laps and fall to ninth.

That promoted local hero Mehdi Bennani to seventh, with the Moroccan’s Honda also minus its rear bumper after a similar assault by the sister Campos Chevrolet of Hugo Valente. With Michelisz slipping to ninth, James Thompson rounded out the top ten in his LADA Granta.

Franz Engstler comfortably won the battle of the TC2 class competitors, which was trimmed to just three cars following the withdrawal of Petr Fulín’s Campos SEAT.

The race saw a few high-profile casualties, with Tom Coronel (ROAL Chevrolet) and Rob Huff (LADA) forced to retire their cars after suffering technical failures mid-race. Series returnee Gianni Morbidelli also suffered mechanical dramas and was forced into the pits, although he was able to resume two laps down and was last of the finishers.

The sister Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet of team owner/driver René Münnich also had dramas, a disappointing result after his career-best qualifying performance on Saturday. The German crept before the start and then got bogged down when the race got underway before compounding his error with a mistake at one of the chicanes, which dropped him to eighteenth. He was called into the pits for his jump-start penalty and then had another summons after he sped in the pit lane.

You can watch the complete race below:


2014 FIA WTCC Race of Morocco – Race 1 Classification (14 laps):

Driver Team Result Class
1. José María López Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 24:40.950 TC1
2. Sébastien Loeb Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen + 0.713 TC1
3. Yvan Muller Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen + 1.607 TC1
4. Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 8.222 TC1
5. Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC Honda + 20.495 TC1
6. Dušan Borković* Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 21.849 TC1
7. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 25.111 TC1
8. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 29.953 TC1
9. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 44.583 TC1
10. James Thompson LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA + 48.956 TC1
11. Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA + 1:03.873 TC1
12. Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 1:14.163 TC2
13. Pasquale di Sabatino Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 1:37.538 TC2
14. John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
+ 1:41.171 TC2
15. Gianni Morbidelli Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 2 laps TC1
Not Classified
DNF. René Münnich* Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 9 laps TC1
DNF. Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 7 laps TC1
DNF. Rob Huff LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA 4 laps TC1
WD. Petr Fulín cz Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
Withdrew TC2
WD. Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC Honda Withdrew TC1

* Borković (10 seconds) and Münnich (30 seconds) were awarded post-race time penalties by the FIA Stewards for a technical and pit lane speeding infringement respectively.


If Race 1 produced plenty of drama, then the script was about to go up another notch in Race 2, which was punctuated with collisions and mechanical dramas that could seriously impact the size of the grid when the field gathers for the championship’s second round at Paul Ricard in a week’s time.

Through it all came nine-time World Rally Champion, Sébastien Loeb, who capped off a terrific WTCC debut with victory from ninth on the grid. He lead teammate José María López home to make a 1-2, while Yvan Muller was eliminated in a heavy startline accident triggered by Tom Coronel and Mehdi Bennani.

Tensions were already high after the field was forced to form up on the grid for a second time after a number of cars were out of their grid slots, and the blood pressure only went sky high from there.

Just seconds into the race, there was chaos. Front-row starters Coronel and Bennani made contact after the latter tipped the former into a spin along the front straight, which resulted in Coronel’s Chevrolet being pin-balled between the walls and collected by an unsighted Muller.

Officials had no choice but to stop the race, and there were more bizarre scenes during the suspension when Coronel confronted Bennani while he was being interviewed live on TV about the incident. While each blamed the other for the contact, the two sportingly embraced – however Bennani would later be apportioned blame for the accident and hit with a three-place grid penalty for the upcoming Paul Ricard round.

The damage to Coronel’s car was so bad that he will be missing from the French round while his batter Chevrolet Cruze is repaired.

The race eventually resumed behind the safety car, with Bennani delighting the home crowd by leading the race ahead of fellow Honda runner Tiago Monteiro.

Loeb had managed to pick his way through the depleted field and was up to third, which quickly became second when he blasted by Monteiro at the restart. The Frenchman was onto the back of Bennani and through into the lead just a lap later, with the Moroccan ordered into the pits to serve a drive-through penalty for his start-line accident with Coronel.

López charged up to second place in the sister Citroën, passing the Chevrolets of Dušan Borković and Tom Chilton in one lap, before disposing of Hugo Valente’s Chevrolet and Monteiro in the following laps.

Bennani's recovery drive ultimate ended in disqualification

Bennani’s recovery drive ultimate ended in disqualification

Valente managed to get by Monteiro, just before the safety car was deployed so marshals could retrieve Borković’s Chevrolet, which had stopped on track with smoke billowing from it.

That compression was a blessing for Bennani – who had since served his penalty – as it allowed him to close up on the pack and launch a charge up the order after the restart. He quickly threaded by Gianni Morbidelli, Mikhail Kozlovskiy and then Tom Chilton, moving up another place when Monteiro slowed in the closing laps and retired.

Bennani looked to have secured a quite impressive fourth place, but a desperate Chilton had one last crack on the final lap, passing the Moroccan through the chicane only to be retaken on the following straight. Exiting the final corner, the pair sprinted side-by-side towards the chequered flag, which went Chilton’s way by just 0.026 seconds. Bennani’s hard work came to nought when he was subsequently disqualified after his car was found to be underweight.

That gave Kozlovskiy fifth place (his first points finish), with Morbidelli securing sixth on his WTCC return in his Chevrolet.

The remaining finishers were the three TC2 class runners of Franz Engstler, John Filippi and Pasquale di Sabatino.

You can watch the entire race below:


2014 FIA WTCC Race of Morocco – Race 2 Classification (16 laps):

Driver Team Result Class
1. Sébastien Loeb Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 47:50.589 TC1
2. José María López Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen + 4.321 TC1
3. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 7.598 TC1
4. Tom Chilton ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 18.305 TC1
DSQ. Mehdi Bennani* Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC Honda + 18.331 TC1
5. Mikhail Kozlovskiy LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA + 19.757 TC1
6. Gianni Morbidelli Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet + 23.117 TC1
7. Franz Engstler Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 38.957 TC2
8. John Filippi Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
+ 48.611 TC2
9. Pasquale di Sabatino Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320TC BMW + 50.553 TC2
10. Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC Honda + 2 laps TC1
Not Classified
DNF. Dušan Borković Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 7 laps TC1
DNF. René Münnich Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 4 laps TC1
DNF. Rob Huff LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA 2 laps TC1
DNF. Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze Chevrolet 0 laps TC1
DNF. Yvan Muller Citroën Racing C-Elysée Citroen 0 laps TC1
DNS. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC Honda TC1
DNS. James Thompson LADA Sport Lukoil Granta Sport LADA TC1
WD. Petr Fulín cz Campos Racing SEAT León WTCC SEAT
Withdrew TC2
WD. Gabriele Tarquini Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC Honda Withdrew TC1

* Bennani was excluded from the final results after his car was found to be underweight in post-race scrutineering.

Images via FIA WTCC Media

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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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