Lopez pro­vi­sion­ally clinches WTCC ti­tle

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

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.

There were big CSCC grids at Don­ing­ton Park

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