Slovakia WTCC: Lopez snatches win in last-lap mayhem

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Slovakia WTCC: Lopez snatches win in last-lap mayhem

Jose Maria Lopez won the main race at Slovakiaring after a thrilling final lap, overtaking Lada's Nicky Catsburg, who looked set to secure his first win in WTCC.

Tiago Monteiro, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
Nicky Catsburg, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Rob Huff, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC; Norbert Michelisz, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC; Tiago Monteiro, Honda Racing Team JAS, Honda Civic WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Nicky Catsburg, LADA Sport Rosneft, Lada Vesta
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC

The Dutchman lost ground to both Lopez and Honda's Tiago Monteiro on the last lap, with the Portuguese leaving Slovakia leading the championship by one point.

At the start of the race, Lopez took the lead ahead of teammate Yvan Muller, but first-corner contact with Catsburg saw the Frenchman drop down to third, followed closely by the Honda trio, with Monteiro ahead of Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz.

An investigation in respect of the contact between Catsburg and Muller ended up with no further action taken by the stewards, just as the Lada driver got closer to Lopez.

Catsburg eventually passed the Citroen to take the lead and thereby build a margin. Lopez, meanwhile, was left defending from Monteiro, while Muller dropped back after being passed by the Portuguese and then made contact with Huff.

After spending a few laps defending from Monteiro, Lopez began to catch Catsburg and with two laps to go, he was all over the Lada's rear bumper.

Meanwhile, Huff went off at Turn 6, leaving fourth in the hands of teammate Michelisz. 

It was all down to the last lap, when Lopez made good use of a better exit out of the last corner to make a pass on Catsburg.

Monteiro took advantage from them going three-wide on the main straight as the Argentinian took the lead, and Monteiro was able to also pass Catsburg's Lada for second.

More drama was to come as Michelisz started attacking the Lada from fourth, but only ended up being caught by Volvo's Thed Bjork, who overtook him after they touched.

The Swede claimed Volvo's best result in the WTCC since its return to the championship. Michelisz would finish fifth ahead of Muller, suffering a puncture right before the took the chequered flag.

Independents' class winner Mehdi Bennani was seventh outright in his Citroen C-Elysee ahead of Sebastien Loeb Racing teammate Tom Chilton.

Fredrik Ekblom went from the back of the grid to ninth in a solid race, finishing ahead of Tom Coronel who completed the top ten in the best-placed Chevrolet Cruze.

Monteiro still leads the championship, after moving ahead in the opening race, by just one point over Lopez, with Michelisz in third, 27 points shy of the leader.

Japanese manufacturer Honda leaves Slovakia still leading the manufacturers' championship, with a three-point margin over French squad Citroen.

Main race results:

PosDriver CarTime/Gap 
 Jose Maria Lopez Citroen 25'44.212 
 Tiago Monteiro Honda 0.700
 Nicky Catsburg Lada 3.260
 Thed Bjork Volvo 3.868
 Norbert Michelisz Honda 4.620
 Yvan Muller Citroen 4.737
 Mehdi Bennani Citroen 5.262
 Tom Chilton Citroen 5.950
 Fredrik Ekblom Volvo 7.551
10   Tom Coronel Chevrolet 18.969
11   John Filippi Chevrolet 19.345
12   James Thompson Chevrolet 20.045
13   Gregoire Demoustier Citroen 21.675
14   Gabriele Tarquini Lada 1'38.571
15   Rob Huff Honda  
Ret  Hugo Valente Lada  
Ret  Ferenc Ficza Honda  

Pietro Casillo/TouringCarTimes

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