Lopez provisionally clinches WTCC title
Jose Maria Lopez provisionally secured his third World Touring Car Championship crown at Motegi last weekend, despite gifting Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller a victory in the second race.
The Argentinian had been on course to win last Sunday’s main race in Japan before slowing to allow Muller through for his first win of the season on the penultimate lap, leaving Lopez 120 points clear of Muller and Honda’s Tiago Monteiro, who finished third.
Although there are technically still three rounds and 165 points remaining, the penultimate event in Thailand is not expected to go ahead for financial reasons, with WTCC promoter Eurosport Events having requested that the FIA’S Touring Car Commission cancel the event. Dropping a round requires formal ratification of the request at this month’s meeting of the World Motorsport Council. That would confirm a third title in as many years for Lopez, who will leave the series at the end of the season after signing to race for the DS Virgin Formula E team.
The cancellation would leave the number of points available in the final two meetings at 110.
“To be crowned champion two weekends before [the end of the season] it’s fantastic,” said Lopez. “I’ve been lucky to be in the best team in the world.”
Briton Rob Huff finished second in the opening race, sandwiched between team-mates Norbert Michelisz and Monteiro, as Honda secured a 1-2-3, before claiming ninth in race two.
One of the joys of British motorsport is the diversity it offers. Within this country we have perhaps the widest range of racing series and competition cars anywhere in the world.
And we’re also spoiled when it comes to the quality of our organising clubs and officials. Head to a club event in any other country and you just won’t find the same slick level of organisation, officiating or logistics. It takes a lot to make a race meeting run smoothly and perhaps one club that isn’t shouted about as much as it should be is the Classic Sports Car Club.
Having taken part in last weekend’s Late Summer Race Meeting at Donington Park I got to see exactly what it’s like to be a CSCC competitor and member. And it was brilliant. Throughout the weekend the CSCC’S staff were polite and helpful, every aspect from sign-on and scrutineering was handled with a smile and a laugh and the entire meeting had an incredibly calm and good-natured feeling about it.
Having followed certain club-level classes in recent seasons, I’ve attended my fair share of drivers’ briefings. Some can get heated, some racked with bickering, some just simply confusing.
A CSCC one? Well, that consisted of a clear and concise explanation of the rules, immediate offers of assistance from both officials and fellow competitors if anybody was having any technical issues, and was capped off with good luck exchanges and handshakes from the majority of participating drivers.
Look at the grid numbers too. Nine of the 10 participating series over the weekend boasted grids in excess of 20 cars, with some even hitting high 30s and capacity 40. If that doesn’t show a club doing something right then I don’t know what does.
The CSCC officials and race control crew weren’t afraid to shuffle the timetable if they needed to, and races were pulled forward to allow more time should it be needed due to difficult conditions – such as Saturday’s relentless rain – or incidents.
Also when out on track the club ran races well too, with minimal safety car interruptions and good use of live recovery of cars when needed and when the conditions permitted it. Also driving standards across the board appeared excellent, with drivers prioritising fun and enjoyment over panel bashing.
Logistics were well planned, with the early finishing classes able to pack up and head off at leisure without any hassle.
As a clubman, it can be daunting when picking where to race. But give the CSCC a shot. Chances are it won’t be a one-off if you do.