11 July 2016
Motorsport history was made in the FIA World Touring Car Championship this afternoon when Citroën won the inaugural WTCC MAC3 competition, the team trial inspired by professional cycling events such as the Tour de France.
In a dramatic finish, the Citroën team of Mehdi Bennani, José María López and Yvan Muller edged LADA (Nicky Catsburg, Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente) by 0.030s after two flying laps of the 3.841-kilometre Circuit Paul Ricard.
Honda was forced to settle for third after a slow start from Rob Huff meant it took the Japanese make 2.453s longer than Citroën to get its three cars over the line with Nobert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro also in action for the team.
Citroën scores 10 points toward its FIA WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship total with its WTCC MAC3 victory. LADA earns eight points while Honda collects six. Polestar, a new factory entrant in the WTCC for this year, will take part in WTCC MAC3 when it enters a third car from 2017.
“It seems it’s a really important strategy to have a good start, from what I saw on the television,” said Citroën head Yves Matton, “The main thing is the gap behind at the start, we were losing, split after split, and it was very close, but that makes the interest of the MAC3.”
LADA’s Viktor Shapovalov said: “To be honest I’m really happy with the driver team this year, so the level of the drivers is quite close, so I think this is our main key to be fast in MAC3. It’s very important the standing start, as we already saw. I think it looks very interesting so we’ll see.”
“We made one day testing the MAC3 simulation and we knew immediately the start was the most critical part of the game,” said Honda’s Alessandro Mariani. “Sometimes it can happen and if it happens you cannot recover. So we decided to check what the gap was without the tow in order to understand with the data of our competitors for the next event. It can happen, it happened, but I like it because for the TV show I think it was better than we understood at the beginning when they introduced this news to the championship. Rob is a driver with less experience with the starting procedure [so we are not angry with him]. Also when you are ready to start and you see some drops on the windscreen it’s not the best.”
WTCC MAC3 results
Citroën 3m07.145s (10 points)
LADA +0.030s (8 points)
Honda +2.453s (6 points)