Just like in Marrakech, Franz Engstler won both the TC2T class races, counting towards the Yokohama Trophy.
However, he had to recover after a disappointing qualifying and especially after a hard crash in the second race, when he was hit by John Filippi’s SEAT.
“In the second race there were a lot of up and downs. I had a bad start with too much wheelspin, and after the contact I came back in the last position and had to fight back. After the restart I had a really good reflex, but Filippi hit me so hard and I fell back. The second safety car period helped me to close the gap, and after the second restart I had a really big fight with Pasquale Di Sabatino. My car was not fine, the steering was completely swerved to the right. But anyway, I was on the lucky side to be able to continue after the crash. Filippi hit me on the wheel, but I nothing was broken, and I am very happy about it,” Engstler said.
Quotes from the podium press conference after Le Castellet’s second race.
José María López: “I think the most important moment was the start. I thought it was going to be difficult so I said: OK, let’s start safe. I avoided contacts and I passed like five or six cars. Then there was a bit of a mess in second chicane, which allowed me to pass Yvan and I think that was the winning move of the race, because otherwise it was going to be impossible to pass him. Then I caught Tiago under the second safety car and passed him on the straight. Starting from P18 did not make me very confident. But we did a good job, we made some changes to the car after the first race, and went for an aggressive set up, because when you start from the back, you know you can take risks. I had nothing to lose really."
Yvan Muller: “It was a good weekend for me, and it was important for me not to recover some points, and this weekend I scored nearly the maximum points, so I am pleased with what we have got. In the second race I took a quiet start, and by the second chicane it was quite a lot of cars over there. I couldn’t expect better. Pechito and I had a good fight, but a fight between team-mates with a lot of respect. And it has to be like this for the whole season, so if I am bit nicer with him he will be nice with me.”
Tiago Monteiro: “Yes, definitely, we had a good weekend. Of course you can see that we still have a gap to Citroën, but we got closer, and we have an idea in which direction we need to go. So in between making some updates and having to completely rebuild the car it was pretty impressive. For this podium really it is a big thank you and congratulations to the team. Of course I am pleased with the result and with the performance, and the car was really fantastic. After a very good start I pulled away as much as possible because I knew that the Citroën cars will be coming at some point. I needed to get that gap and I was pretty confident with it. I didn’t know if it was going to be enough, but I had to keep pushing. Of course safety car didn’t come at the perfect time for me, but that’s the way races are. Like I said we did improve and we are moving in the right direction.”
José María López took his second win of the season in a lively Race 2 at the Paul Ricard, marked by two safety-car periods.
The Argentine preceded his team mate Yvan Muller, winner of Race 1, in another 1-2 win for Citroën after the C-Elysées bent the resilience of the Honda of Tiago Monteiro, who led for most of the race. The Portuguese offered to Honda its second consecutive podium finish.
Tarquini, Bennani and Loeb completed the top 6. The Frenchman had a more difficult Race 2 after an early contact with Muller and hitting the chicane tires later on.
Franz Engstler won again the TC2 race despite being hit by Filippi at mid-race.
Start – Monteiro takes a great start and takes the lead ahead of Bennani, Münnich, Tarquini and Borković.
Lap 1 – Chilton pushes Morbidelli into a spin and Muller is also involved.
Lap 2 – Chilton is passed by López and Muller who slams the door on Loeb; the two tangle.
Lap 4 – Valente fights with Chilton and Michelisz for tenth
Lap 5 – Monteiro leads from Tarquini who has passed Bennani.
Lap 6 – López and Muller pass Tarquini after a small mistake of the Italian.
Lap 7 – Loeb hits the tire pile at the chicane, prompting the exit of the safety-car.
Lap 8 – Chilton is given a drive-through for the incident at the start.
Lap 9 – At the restart, Monteiro keeps the advantage on López and Muller; but it’s safety-car again, as Filippi T-bones Engstler at turn 1.
Lap 14 – The race restarts and López and Muller outpower Monteiro; Borković and Loeb pass Valente
Lap 16 – Loeb moves up to fifth Bennani ahead of Borković
Lap 17 - Loeb passes Bennani for fourth
Lap 18 - López wins from Muller; Michelisz and Morbidelli pip Valente and Huff for 8th and 9th
Lap 18 – Engstler retakes TC2T lead from Di Sabatino.