Jose-Maria Lopez wins WTCC championship; Ogier clinches second WRC title


Two of motorsport’s biggest series crowned their champions today as Sebastien Ogier and Jose-Maria Lopez won the World Rally Championship and the World Touring Car Championship respectively.

Lopez’s name may ring a bell with many motorsport fans in the United States, given that he was intended to be one of the drivers for the US F1 Team upon its entry to Formula 1 for the 2010 season. Ultimately, the plans did not come to fruition, and the project remains a spectre looming over any hopes of taking an American team into the sport in the future.

Lopez’s career continued in touring cars, though, and he entered the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) for a one-off race in his native Argentina last year, winning one of the two races.

For 2014, Lopez went full-time in the WTCC, and today was crowned the series’ first non-European champion after finishing sixth in the second race at Suzuka. He is also Argentina’s first motor racing world champion since the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio won the last of his five F1 world championships.

“It means a lot to me to win the title here at Suzuka, where Ayrton Senna, my idol, was crowned F1 champion twice,” Lopez said. “If there was a place where I wanted this to happen, it is here

“Of course, I can imagine that there are a lot of people happy in Argentina at this moment. It’s the first world title since Fangio. He was the one who made motor racing so popular at home, and it is a big honour for me to be bring a world title to my country and make my countrymen happy.”

In the World Rally Championship, France’s Sebastien Ogier clinched his second world title with victory in Spain this weekend.

“It’s a great achievement to win one title but even better to take a second,” Ogier said. “It’s a confirmation and proves the first title was not a one-off.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend, but it was tough. I pushed so hard on leg one and it was a long two days on tarmac where I had to watch Jari-Matti Latvala [his title rival] flying. I had to be clever and keep watching him all the time.”

Ogier has been the man to pick up the mantle at the top of the rally world following Sebastien Loeb’s departure from the series. Loeb won every title between 2004 and 2012 before taking a step back to pursue other racing interests in – to nicely take this article full circle – the WTCC.

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.