After 15 years as a works Citroen driver in both the World Rally Championship and World Touring Car Championship, Sebastian Loeb drove his final race for the French marque in the WTCC season finale in Qatar.
World Touring Car Championship
Rounds 23 and 24: Qatar
The final round of the FIA WTCC was held in Qatar this season, rather than the traditional finale venue of the Macau Grand Prix. Recently crowned double world champion Jose Maria Lopez dominated the first of two final races, taking a ‘grand slam’ of pole, fastest lap and victory after leading every racing lap under the lights at the Losail circuit.
The 24th and final race of the WTCC season was won by Yvan Muller – Citroen’s 21st victory of another dominant season. But it was not without some drama, as Muller inherited the lead after contact with John Filippi’s Chevrolet in turn one. The Frenchman’s victory elevated him above Loeb to second in the final championship standings,
After Citroen’s decision to only run two factory cars next WTCC season with Lopez and Muller at the wheel, the event marked the final competitive outing for Sebastian Loeb as a works Citroen driver. The 15-year partnership yielded nine consecutive World Rally Championship titles, 78 rally victories and six WTCC race wins.
Round 13: Argentina
Petter Solberg was crowned back-to-back world rallycross champion in Rosario as Argentina played host to the last round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
In an action-packed final race in the Supercar category, Robin Larsson took the final win of the season. Solberg had already secured his second consecutive title by virtue of qualifying for the final and finished third in what turned out to be a close and dramatic end to the season.
Guest series: Monza Rally Show
Valentino Rossi proved his skills on four wheels as well as two once again by winning the Monza Rally Show ahead of Thierry Neuville and Davide Blivio.
Also last weekend
The final race of the GP2 season was abandoned in Abu Dhabi after a multi-car crash caused barrier damage at at turn three. Stoffel Vandoorne had already won the previous day’s feature race, adding yet more silverware to the champion’s collection.
Fortunately there were no such dramas in GP3 where the championship was unresolved heading into the final race. Esteban Ocon was first home in race one but a five-second penalty for running wide at the start to gain an advantage dropped him to fourth ahead of rival Luca Ghiotto. In the final encounter the title rivals made contact before the first corner as Ocon barged past on his way to take third place and the championship.
Ocon, who is backed by Mercedes, secured back-to-back single-seater titles following his success in European F3 last year, taking the GP3 crown despite only scoring one win all season to Ghiotto’s five.
Over to you
What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Next weekend Australia’s V8 Supercars championship will be decided around the tricky Homebush street circuit in Sydney, Australia.
Weekend Racing Wrap
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12 comments on “End of an era for Loeb and Citroen in Qatar”
30th November 2015, 15:15
That Monza Rally Show still uses part of the old oval, does it not?
Arnold Triyudho Wardono (@ernietheracefan)
30th November 2015, 18:06
30th November 2015, 15:29
I won’t be bashful in saying I am a huge fan of Esteban Ocon. His iconically aggressive style, sensational affinity with a car on opposite lock and sixth sense for knowing where the grip is in a corner before turning in, makes him one of the most spectacular junior stars I’ve ever seen. Ghiotto was the man with the speed in GP3 in 2015, often enjoying up to a third of a second advantage on his best days, but despite that, and despite a plethora of penalties, Ocon took the the title on sheer consistency and determination. The onboard of Ocon’s “Loeb-inspired” pole lap was the highlight of the weekend for me.
So it remains a mystery, considering he resoundingly beat F1’s new “next big thing” when they raced in F3 last year, that Ocon hasn’t leapfrogged Pascal Wehrlein in Mercedes’ junior hierarchy. There can be no question that Ocon would be ready for a seat at Manor next year, so why resign him to DTM anonymity? The fact that F1 has so consistently failed to credit the talents of Vandoorne, Magnussen and Ocon (when Verstappen is comparatively illustrating what they could be achieving) remains as one of the most alienating faults of the 2015 season.
30th November 2015, 18:21
F1 is an old boys club. With RBR and STR as only exceptions.
30th November 2015, 22:01
@william-brierty, Relying entirely on your description of Ocons skills I can see why he would be more suited to DTM than F1, limit of grip, opposite lock, deary me no, he’d never be able to conserve the tyres, F1 is for the tortoises not the hares.
30th November 2015, 22:33
@hohum Strangely, a modern DTM car is less likely to slide than an F1 car, because the DTM V8s generate little torque relative to the shed load of downforce the body generates. In terms of Ocon’s style, everything is relative, so whilst you wouldn’t mistake him for Jenson Button, he’s not Ari Vatanen either. And, as is the hallmark of a great, versatile driver, he is markedly less acrobatic in the race.
30th November 2015, 23:17
Pretty good, if only mercedes had more cars.
1st December 2015, 14:59
I really can’t figure out what Wehrlein has in him to be part of the Mercedes-Benz F1 hopefuls camp! Beats me…
1st December 2015, 11:53
Correction, Loeb has 78 rally victories, not 66 :) (It would be 79 had he not been disqualified at the 2002 Monte Carlo rally)
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
2nd December 2015, 14:30
Thanks, have changed it.
1st December 2015, 14:57
It was sad when Loeb explained that he was surprised to be given the boot by Citroen. However, the end of a long chapter is the beginning of a new one. The adventure begins for Loeb with Peugeot at the Dakar – I’ll be watching!
1st December 2015, 17:28
Thanks Keith for including the Monza Rally videos. I was never a fan of modern rallying thanks to the prosaic-looking hatchbacks (though they’re anything but that), but this may change my mind. Those machines look spectacular in this setting and the big stars have come out, particularly Italian motorcycling legends Valentino Rossi and multiple World Motocross champ Antonio Cairoli. And they were mixing it up with rally maestros such as Thierry Neuville! And the legendary banking is part of the action too – awesome! I wish more Grand Prix drivers would try this (it has to re-positioned to a more convenient date if that’s to happen). If Monster could bring in Hamilton and Rosberg to the party too…!
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