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– After one week off, the FIA World Touring Car Championship resumes in Hungary this weekend
– With two meetings completed, Citroën’s José-María López leads the World Championship standings heading into the next round
– The Hungaroring – also the venue of the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix – is a strong circuit for Yvan Muller, having taken pole on his three previous visits

The competitors in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) are gearing up for back-to-back meetings in Central Europe, with the upcoming Hungarian round to be followed a week later by a visit to Slovakia.

After a successful start to the season, the Citroën Total team now face very different circuits to those encountered in Morocco and France. With two race wins already, José-María López leads the World Championship standings with 85 points, closely followed by his teammates Sébastien Loeb (73 points) and Yvan Muller (65 points).

The packed early season schedule leaves little respite for the FIA WTCC teams. After returning from the Paul Ricard Circuit, Citroën Racing’s mechanics had only three days to prepare the three Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs before they set off for the third round of the World Championship in Hungary.

“This is our first opportunity to take stock of where we are,” said Citroën Racing Team Principal, Yves Matton.

“Having finished first, second and third in one race, and first and second in the other three, the results we have achieved on paper have surpassed our expectations. I have to say that the team has adapted very quickly to this new discipline, even when there have been unexpected changes in the weather or the race situation. The other thing that has been very pleasing is that our three drivers have regularly won races. None of them has really got the upper hand over his teammates. That sense of team spirit and togetherness remains intact. We are now focusing on the challenges ahead: we’ll be racing on circuits that we don’t know as well as our rivals do, and those rivals seemto be improving fast.”

Made famous by the Formula 1 Grand Prix it has hosted since 1986, the Hungaroring has been an unmissable part of the FIA WTCC since 2011. Last year, more than 50,000 spectators flooded the stands to cheer on the drivers, with national icon Norbert Michelisz foremost in their affections. “I’m really looking forward to this meeting because I’ve been told the atmosphere is absolutely incredible,” commented Sébastien Loeb, who is no stranger to big crowds. “Along with Argentina, this will probably be the round with the most people in attendance. I find that really motivating,” added José-María López.

Yvan Muller, meanwhile, seems to find the Hungaroring more inspiring than most. At the three meetings he has contested on the circuit’s 4,381 metres of dusty, bumpy tarmac, the man from Alsace has secured pole position at each event, before going on to win the first race. In 2011, he even pulled off the impressive feat of winning both races.

“I’ve already driven a bit on this circuit: in an F3000 a few years back, and last summer in the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, at the very start of the car’s development,” said Sébastien Loeb. “It’s quite narrow, with a lot of technically demanding sequences. I think it’s quite a nice circuit, but I don’t know if there will be a lot of overtaking opportunities.”

“The last time I raced in Budapest was in 2006, in GP2,” recalled José-María López. “It’s a circuit with lots of twists and turns, so our tyres are going to suffer, and we’ll have to manage them carefully all weekend. That will be the key, especially if the weather’s very hot.”

On Thursday 1 May, the day before they venture onto the Hungaroring track for the first time, the Citroën Racing drivers and the C-Elysée WTCC will take part in the “Great Run”, a roadshow to be held in the streets of the Hungarian capital. Taking in both banks of the Danube and passing in front of the famous Hungarian parliament building, the circuit will visit the two parts of the city, Buda and Pest. A big crowd is expectedfor this event, the traditional curtain-raiser to what promises to be a great weekend for car lovers.

As for all meetings except Moscow, Friday’s free practice session will take place from 12.30 to 13:00. On Saturday, the two other practice sessions are scheduled for 09.00 and 12.00, before qualifying gets underway at 14.30. The two races will be held in quick succession on Sunday afternoon, at 13.35 and 14.35.

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