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.