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WTCC Moscow

Jose Maria Lopez: A "debacle" of a weekend in Moscow

Reigning WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez looks back at a tough weekend in Moscow, which left him podium-less for the first time in his career in the series.

José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC; Mehdi Bennani, Sébastien Loeb Racing, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
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
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
Autograph session: José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
José María López, Citroën World Touring Car Team, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC

My dear friends from Motorsport.com,

I think, this time, it will be really hard to convince you that Moscow Raceway is not my worst circuit and that, at the end, I consider this past weekend quite a positive one.

In the past, on this circuit, I've had some tough times - my only real stops and mistakes had occurred right here. But I never thought that there was much of a connection.

Car woes

This time, however, my theories were put to the test because, for the first time in my WTCC career, I was not able to make Q3. Also, for the first time, I missed the podium in both races.

That had never happened before - and the fact that it happened right on the Russian track makes me think that, between us, there is something not quite right.

But, for sure, we had the technical data to explain the lack of performance, and me not feeling the car.

All weekend I've not felt comfortable with the C-Elysee and I think this is due to a number of factors that all came together. The track, the low temperatures, the rain and the ballast were, in my opinion, the chief reasons behind this debacle.

The track, it must be said, is one of those circuits where, in the past, our opponents have always been closer. And the low temperatures have been crucial to the functioning of the tyres.

It seems that our Citroen is just not aggressive enough with the tyres and, in these conditions, we couldn't get them to work in the correct range.

We don't exactly know the reasons and we are still analysing all the data to understand  our performance. But we believe that this was the catalyst: tyres that do not work within the right temperatures just do not go very far.

The ballast had its role, too, but we were prepared for that. We will have to live with that all year and we work hard to ensure that the effect is minimised.

The truth is that, throughout the weekend, we were groping in the dark. Every technical solution we've had did not produce results that we hoped for - but we understand why.

The fastest Citroen

Nevertheless, the positives should not be overlooked. I've been the fastest Citroen throughout the weekend, keeping them behind all in qualifying - Yvan, too.

In the race, I couldn't do more than I did because we simply lacked performance. I gritted my teeth and kept behind Monteiro in race one, but I could not manage more.

The real positive, however, is the championship standings. I was 94 points ahead when I arrived and, at the end of the two races, I'm now 105 in the clear. A nice haul, no doubt about it.

The performance of the Moscow Raceway, in the end, doesn't bother me that much. I know that it was just a one-off.

In 60 races with Citroen, we made up many points and have always been on the podium in at least one of the two races of each weekend. Certainly, from outside, the Moscow slump was a surprise on which everyone is focused, and I understand that.

I, however, do not let it distract me. Preparing for races, I always keep in mind that, sooner or later, a weekend can go wrong.

You have to arrive to the track with your feet on the ground, knowing that your opponents are working and that not everything will go smoothly.

Was it strange? Yes. To watch others compete in Q3 was a new thing for me. But then again, I'm not worried. At the next race, conditions are quite different and I think we will return to normal.

Unprecedented advantage

I'm in a very comfortable championship position. After three years and two titles, I still have not had the kind of gap I have right now.

Last year I was in front by 35 points, and two  years ago - by 25. All is going well and I'm sure the team is working hard to understand our problems in Russia. We'll rise again.

Surely I cannot relax, as we're only in the middle of the championship - and If I consider the title won, it could be a grave mistake.

I'm not changing my approach - I'll try to be more intelligent, focused and try not to miss a thing.

At the next race, in Portugal, to do a mistake will be very easy. We'll work at the simulator to prepare and I will do everything I can to go back to fighting for the positions we usually fight for at Citroen.

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