Yvan Muller and Yannick Agnel are two of France’s sports glories. The former is a four-time World Touring Car champion, the latter a double Olympic Swimming champion.
Muller and Agnel met last week at the Circuit de Versailles-Satory, close to Vélizy where Citroën Racing is based.
Agnel, 21-years old from Nîmes, won the 200 Metres Freestyle and 4×100 Metres Freestyle Relay at the London Olympics in 2012 and at the 2013 Swimming World Championships in Barcelona. At Satory he enjoyed a high speed driving lesson from Muller.
“It is interesting to see that high level sportsmen have in common the capacity of analyzing and solving the problems. In Agnel’s case, he will only need two or three advices to learn,” Muller commented.
The question is: when Agnel will teach Muller a swimming lesson?
Watch the clip at www.fiawtcc.com!
SEASON REVIEW – WTCC FIELD UP BY 10.6%
In 2013 the WTCC field grew up by +10.6% compared to 2012; the average participation over the twelve events of the year was of 25.5 cars, with a record peak of 34 entered in the season’s finale at Macau.
Yvan Muller became the first driver capable of clinching the World Touring Car Championship crown four times.
The Frenchman had previously won three titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011, matching the record established by Andy Priaulx (2005, 2006 and 2007) who remains the only man to be crowned champion in three consecutive seasons.
45 drivers of 18 nationalities took part in at least one event during the 2013 season, at the wheel of models built by six manufacturers: BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, LADA, SEAT and Volvo.
Ten out of 45 joined WTCC for the first time, increasing to 196 the total number of drivers who have made at least one appearance in the championship (since 2005).
Latvia’s Konstantins Calko was the first competitor ever from the Baltic States.
SPECIAL AWARDS FOR WTCC BICENTENARIES
Two drivers and two teams received special awards for taking part in their 200th WTCC race.
Rob Huff was the first driver to reach this historical mark, in the second race at Shanghai, followed by Tom Coronel in the first race at Macau; their tallies are now 202 and 201 respectively.
Unfortunately Gabriele Tarquini failed to emulate them due to the engine failure that prevented him from taking the start in Macau’s Race 1; as a consequence the Italian is lying currently at level 199.
The teams awarded were RML and Proteam Racing.
They are actually the only outfits to have taken the start in all the 204 races held so far since the WTCC was launched in 2005.
BENNANI JOINS THE 100 RACE CLUB
Mehdi Bennani was the latest driver inducted in the WTCC 100 Race Club, reserved for those who have taken the start in one hundred World Championship races.
The men from Morocco reached the 100 mark in the second race at Suzuka and was officially inducted in the Club during the WTCC prize giving ceremony at Macau.
Bennani has become the sixteenth member of the WTCC 100 Race Club and the youngest of those who are still competing in the championship.
RACE VICTORIES – ELEVEN DIFFERENT WINNERS
Eleven different drivers shared race victories during the season. Only twice in the past did the WTCC provide a higher number of winners: twelve in 2005 and fourteen in 2008.
Yvan Muller took the lion’s share with seven wins, which increased his tally to an impressive 37. And even more impressive, he has claimed 24 out of the 37 in the three latest seasons…
With two victories apiece, former world champions Rob Huff and Gabriele Tarquini reached 25 and 19 successes respectively; this meant that Huff moved to a solo second position leaving Alain Menu behind, while Tarquini climbed to fourth ahead of Andy Priaulx. The Italian also remains the only driver who won at least one race in each of the series’ nine seasons.
However, the most significant fact was that five drivers joined the WTCC winners’ club, something that had never happened before.
James Nash, Tom Chilton, Michel Nykjær, Pepe Oriola and José María López collected nine race wins altogether, and two of them have even marked new milestones for WTCC: at Marrakech, Oriola became the youngest ever winner of an FIA World Championship race at the age of 18 years and nine months, while winning his home race in Argentina, López became the first driver victorious on his maiden appearance in the FIA touring cars.
QUALIFYING – MULLER WINS FROM THE POLE
Yvan Muller’s domination during the 2013 season was especially evident in qualifying. With eight pole positions out of twelve sessions, the quadruple World Champion established a new record for the series. The previous one was five pole positions set by Alain Menu in 2007 and matched by Gabriele Tarquini in 2009.
Starting from pole proved crucial in the chase for the crown, as Muller converted six of them into race victories. Only once, in Shanghai, he settled for second place when Tom Chilton passed him on the last lap. As for the pole position he claimed at the Salzburgring, it was only good for statistics, as Muller (like a lot of other drivers) was demoted by a penalty.
However, pole position was not the only factor that counted in Muller’s march towards another title. He scored 51 points in qualifying, that equate to 11.8% of his total tally of 431 points in the Drivers’ Championship. A big deal compared to Tarquini’s 21 points (8.7%) and James Nash’s 7 points (3.1%). The four remaining pole positions went to Tarquini (2), Norbert Michelisz and Chilton (one each).
Muller and Tarquini also top the WTCC all time statistics with 22 and 17 poles respectively.
GRID – REVERSED POLE PROVED CRUCIAL
In 2013 the rule that reverses the first ten drivers classified in the qualifying session on the grid for the second race proved as crucial as ever.
Five times out of twelve the driver who started from pole position on the reverse grid was able to win the race.
James Nash at Salzburgring and Porto, José María López at Termas de Río Hondo and Tiago Monteiro at Shanghai fully exploited their opportunities, while Tom Coronel did it at Slovakia Ring but could not convert into a victory his second reversed pole at Macau.
However, the driver who took the most starts from pole in the second race was Mehdi Bennani. The man from Morocco lined up in the top spot three times, at Moscow, Sonoma and Suzuka, but he only managed to achieve some leading laps (Russia and Japan) and two second places (USA and Japan).
Other drivers who started from pole on the reverse grid were Darryl O’Young (Monza), Fernando Monje (Marrakech) and Alex MacDowall (Budapest).
LAPS – MULLER LEADER OF THE PACK
The twenty-four races of the 2013 WTCC totaled to 311 laps, including 27 (8.7%) behind the safety car, which equated to a race distance of 1370.69 kilometres.
Once again the streets circuits proved the trickiest. The safety car was deployed at Porto during both races for a total of nine laps, while the second race in Macau was suspended twice by the red flag. The only other race disrupted by the red flag was the first at the Moscow Raceway.
Yvan Muller led for 85 laps, 27.3% of the total. Behind him Gabriele Tarquini was ahead of the field for 31 laps, Tom Coronel and Michel Nykjær for 28.
Looking at the all time statistics, Muller reinforced his leadership further, with 454 laps led; Alain Menu is still second with 297 despite he did not take part in this year’s championship, Rob Huff is third with 270.
During the 2013 season three drivers joined the lap-leading club: Pepe Oriola, Tom Chilton and José María López, all of them on their way to claim their first race victory.
POINTS – FIVE NEW SCORERS JOIN THE LIST
Scoring 431 points during the season, Yvan Muller nearly matched his own record of 433 that was established in 2011.
The French driver collected a grand total of 1968 points over his eight WTCC seasons; in the all-time table he his followed at distance by Rob Huff (1581) and Gabriele Tarquini (1363).
The only other driver who has topped the 1000-point mark is Alain Menu (1091).
Since the WTCC was launched in 2005, 69 drivers have scored points in the Drivers’ Championship.
Five of them made their entry into the scorers’ list during the 2013 season: Marc Basseng, José María López, Hugo Valente, Henry Ho and Célio Alves Dias.