Ten WTCC moments that made Marrakech magic
Motorsport of an electric kind will hit the streets of Marrakech this weekend when the FIA Formula E Championship drops in. Since 2009, the Moroccan city has been a popular fixture on the FIA World Touring Car Championship calendar and here are 10 unforgettable moments.
AUTO - WTCC MARRAKECH 2016FIA WTCR
Huff the history-maker
International car racing returns to Morocco for the first time since the Casablanca Grand Prix of 1958 when Marrakech hosts rounds five and six of the 2009 WTCC season. Rob Huff makes history by winning the country’s first WTCC race from start to finish driving a Chevrolet.
Bennani serves notice of intent
Race winners Rob Huff and team-mate Nicola Larini aside, emerging local driver Mehdi Bennani impresses by finishing in the top 10 on both occasions. He’s since become a Moroccan national hero – and a WTCC Trophy champion.
Oriola becomes youngest winner
Pepe Oriola becomes the youngest winner of a World Touring Car Championship race in Marrakech in April 2013 aged 18 years, eight months and 29 days.
WTCC’s new era begins…
The new TC1 era is go as cars conforming to the FIA’s new technical rules are driven in anger in Marrakech for the start of the 2014 season.
…and Citroën shines
Citroën’s WTCC reign begins in dominant fashion with José María López and Sébastien Loeb sharing the 2014 wins. The result also marks a debut WTCC victory for ex-World Rally Championship star Loeb.
It started with a crash for Coronel
There are no Citroën-style celebrations for Tom Coronel with the Dutchman retiring from Race 1 following a technical failure before his hopes – and car – are wiped out in a Race 2 startline smash after contact with Mehdi Bennani. It’s no better for Coronel in 2015 with another double non-finish the end result.
What’s 0.03 between friends?
Tom Chilton prevents Mehdi Bennani from taking fourth place in the second race in 2014 by a slender 0.03s. Now team-mates at Sébastien Loeb Racing, Bennani beat Chilton to the WTCC Trophy crown in China in late September.
When team-mates collide
While it was a moment to forget for the factory LADA squad, the aftermath of Mikhail Kozlovskiy’s unfortunate collision with team-mate James Thompson becomes an iconic image of the 2015 season. The young Russian gets his braking all wrong for the left-hand hairpin at the end of the lap, relying on Thompson’s Vesta to slow him down instead. The result was two badly damaged cars and a great deal of dented Kozlovskiy pride. He would lose his factory drive shortly afterwards.
No cracking under pressure
When Hugo Valente, who scored his maiden WTCC podium in Marrakech in 2014, drops out of the lead to serve a drive-through penalty following his Opening Race clash with James Thompson in 2016, Tom Coronel is handed top spot. Despite intense pressure from the chasing José María López, Coronel holds on to claim a rare but impressive victory in his privateer Chevrolet.
New track, new hope
The new-look Circuit Moulay El Hassan is inaugurated during the 2016 WTCC Race of Morocco weekend. Now measuring 2.971 kilometres in length (down from 4.545km), what was a temporary course becomes a semi-permanent facility with certain sections of the old track, including the start/finish straight, retained.