Yvan Muller has beaten Citroën teammate Sébastien Loeb to the FIA WTCC runner-up placing in the Drivers’ Championship by a single point after claiming victory in Friday night’s second race in the series’ final round of the season in Qatar.

The Frenchman’s victory followed that of a dominant showing by teammate and newly-crowned double World Champion José María López, who cruised to victory in the opening race under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit.

There were further celebrations among the privateer runners, with Norbert Michelisz claiming his second Yokohama Independent Trophy title by just four points over Mehdi Bennani. The latter finished a fine second in Race 1, only for Michelisz to return serve in Race 2, with his class victory ensuring the Hungarian would claim the crown.


Jose Maria Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC

Race 1: López scorches the field

José María López equalled his record of ten race wins in a single season with a dominant lights-to-flag drive to victory in Friday night’s opening race at the Losail International Circuit.

The Argentine held his own from pole position, holding out the fellow Citroëns of Sébastien Loeb and Mehdi Bennani at the first turn before quickly building an unassailable lead to win by over seven seconds.

Loeb made the best of starts to briefly get the jump on Bennani into Turn 1, but the Frenchman made a mistake at Turn 2 to allow the Moroccan and the Campos Racing Chevrolet of Hugo Valente by into second and third places respectively.

The top four ran in that order for the rest of the race, with the remaining Citroëns of Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller staging their own private battle in fifth and sixth places. Try as he might, Muller was unable to pressure the Chinese driver into a mistake.

Norbert Michelisz picked up seventh overall in his Honda, but it resulted in third place in the Independent Trophy class and the loss of vital championship points to his rival Bennani ahead of the final race of the season. With the gap trimmed to just 2 points, the Hungarian needed to beat Bennani in Race 2 in order to claim a second title.

The top ten finishers were rounded out by Tiago Monteiro (Honda), Nick Catsburg (LADA) and Stefano D’Aste (Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet), only for D’Aste to subsequently be given a post-race penalty for jumping the start. That promoted LADA rookie Nicolas Lapierre into tenth place.

The only drama of note in what was a very dull race came from Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, who spun off on the first lap and dropped to dead last. Carrying an extra 40kg of competition ballast, the Italian’s car proved to be a handful and he remained mired at the back of the field, only getting by local driver Nasser Al-Attiyah before the chequered flag.


2015 FIA WTCC Race of Qatar – Race 1 Final Classification (12 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. José María López Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 12 24:33.158
2. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée 12 + 7.631
3. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 11.774
4. Sébastien Loeb Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 12 + 12.717
5. Ma Qing Hua Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 12 + 18.815
6. Yvan Muller fr Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 12 + 19.343
7. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 12 + 20.064
8. Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC 12 + 22.700
9. Nick Catsburg nl LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 12 + 24.397
10. Nicolas Lapierre LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 12 + 31.613
11. Tom Coronel nl ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 34.224
12. Rob Huff uk LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 12 + 34.530
13. Tom Chilton uk ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 35.129
14. John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 36.178
15. Gabriele Tarquini it Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC 12 + 37.292
16. Nasser Al-Attiyah Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 39.646
17. Stefano D’Aste^ it Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 12 + 55.426
18. Grégoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 11 + 1 lap

^ Stefano D’Aste – who was originally classified in tenth place – was issued a post-race drive-through penalty (applied as a 30-second time penalty) for jumping the start.


Yvan Muller leads Ma Qing Hua

Race 2: Muller crowned runner-up with victory

Four-time series champion Yvan Muller claimed his sixth race win of the season, managing to claw back the 12-point deficit to teammate Sébastien Loeb to claim runner-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship standings from his French compatriot by 1 point.

Starting Race 2 from third place, Muller’s run to victory was made slightly easier before the start of the race thanks to front-row starter Tom Coronel suffering an oil leak in his ROAL Motorsports Chevrolet. The Dutchman was forced to leave from the pit lane after the necessary repairs could not be carried out in time.

Muller’s next stroke of luck came when pole-sitter John Filippi’s Campos Chevrolet crept on the grid before the lights went out, giving the young Corsican a drive-through penalty.

Filippi managed to keep the lead from Muller and Ma into Turn 1, but behind them there was drama as the pack tried to funnel through the right-hander. Nick Catsburg’s fast-starting LADA was hit from behind, breaking the Dutchman’s rear suspension and sending him into the path of the unsighted Stefano D’Aste.

The two cars collided and were out on the spot and the Safety Car was called so they could be moved off the circuit. It was a lengthy interruption and the race didn’t restart until Lap 6.

Filippi was quickly overwhelmed by Muller as the pair crossed the start/finish line, but tried to argue the point too much into Turn 1 and chopped across the veteran’s nose as he swung to the apex of the corner.

The contact punted Filippi into a spin, and he spent the rest of the race touring at the back of the field after recovering back onto the circuit and serving his pit lane drive-through penalty for his jumped start.

Muller was then left to cruise to victory ahead of Ma, while Michelisz claimed third place and the Independent Trophy crown. The Hungarian fended off repeated attacks from Loeb, consigning the French rally ace to being demoted to third in the Drivers’ Championship standings as a result of Muller’s victory.

Mehdi Bennani and Hugo Valente rounded out the top-six, ahead of Gabriele Tarquini of José María López, who lost a number of places trying to dodge the Catsburg/D’Aste contact on the opening lap and spent the rest of his race trying to carve his way back up the order.


2015 FIA WTCC Race of Qatar – Race 2 Final Classification (14 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Yvan Muller fr Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 14 32:47.712
2. Ma Qing Hua Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 14 + 5.264
3. Norbert Michelisz Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC 14 + 6.340
4. Sébastien Loeb Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 14 + 7.243
5. Mehdi Bennani Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée 14 + 7.788
6. Hugo Valente Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 10.145
7. Gabriele Tarquini it Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC 14 + 10.650
8. José María López Citroën Total WTCC C-Elysée 14 + 11.682
9. Tiago Monteiro Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC 14 + 15.098
10. Nicolas Lapierre LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 14 + 16.975
11. Grégoire Demoustier Craft-Bamboo Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 19.243
12. Tom Coronel nl ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 20.580
13. Tom Chilton uk ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 21.655
14. Nasser Al-Attiyah Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 26.965
15. John Filippi Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze 14 + 57.065
16. Rob Huff uk LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 9 Brakes
Not Classified
DNF. Nick Catsburg nl LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC 0 Collision
DNF. Stefano D’Aste it Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze 0 Collision

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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