Ma Qing Hua keeps TCR China lead after tough Jiangsu weekend


Ma Qing Hua continues to lead the TCR China drivers' championship after a pair of podiums at Jiangsu, but has lost ground after he was taken out of the third race on Sunday morning.

The team fought hard in qualifying, but with the current levels of compensation weight, struggled against the MGs, with Ma qualifing in fifth and sixth in the two qualifying sessions, with Yang Xi seventh in both in their Lynk & Co 03 TCRs.

Saturday started well, with Ma leaping to third at the start in Race 1, with an exciting battle following between Ma and his title rival Rodolfo Avila, making his way past with just one lap to spare to grab second place in the race.

Ma again made up ground of the start of Race 2 and was quickly up to fourth, and then found himself in a race-long battle with Sun Chao's MG, making his move on the final corner, but Sun then turned into Ma's car, slowing the pair down. Sun crossed the line third, but was handed a post-race penalty which handed Ma his eighth consecutive podium finish from eight starts.

Sunday didn't go so well for the Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Motorsport team however. In the first race, Ma made a sensational start to pass three MGs before the first corner from sixth on the grid, but as he and title rival Avila went side-by-side through Turn 1, Avila and Ma made contact, with Avila then spinning across the track in front of Ma's 03 TCR, with Ma out of the race with suspension damage.

Yang Xi was left to take up the challenge, and managed to finish in fifth place in the race.

In the fourth race, Ma found himself stuck behind the MG of Zhang Zhen Dong throughout the first half of the race, with Zhang deliberately holding the Lynk & Co driver back in order to allow his team-mates to escape.

Ma eventually got past the MG on lap 14, but it took him the rest of the race to close down the ten seconds to Rainey He's car, so could only manage fifth, with Yang two spots behind in seventh.

Ma continues to lead the drivers' standings, with his lead now eight points over Rodolfo Avila, who is now his only rival for the drivers' championship title, while the four-car MG squad amassed enough points over the weekend to move ahead of Lynk & Co in the models' classification, and pull out a significant lead in the teams' classification.

The next round of the championship takes place at the iconic Guia Circuit in Macau, where Sunny Wong will take over from Yang Xi to support Ma's title bid.

Ma Qing Hua said:

"It was a difficult qualifying for us, but we had a great car in the races. We managed to show it on Saturday, though we also showed that passing at this track is next to impossible, so getting to second and third in Race 1 and 2 was hard, but rewarding.

"Because passing is so hard here, the starts were really important, and in Race 3 I had an amazing start and was up to third, but then the MG just spun around and into my car at the exit of the first corner and there was nothing I could do.

"Thanks to the team for fixing the car and getting us back out for Race 4. It was again a difficult race, but it's important to pick up as many points as we can to keep our championship hopes alive as we go to Macau, a circuit we know should be good for us, but it's going to be very difficult with MG bringing a strong force there."

Yang Xi said:

"It's been a good weekend for me. Four points finishes are good for the team, and we had consistency throughout the races.

"I was hoping to be able to finish on the podium in Race 3, but unfortunately the pace of the MGs was too much for us this weekend with the weights as they are, so I had to settle for what I could get.

"My two weekends with Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Motorsport have been a great experience, and all the best to the team to achieve its goal in Macau."

Ken Lyu, team manager, said:

"This was a mixed weekend. We knew we would struggle for pace here, and we were also unlucky with the reversed grid draw, which is always all about luck - and this meant we had to do all our work on the track the races.

"Ma made some fantastic starts, especially Races 1 and 3, but he was so unlucky in Race 3 to be taken out, and that possibly cost us a victory, and we'd have had a much stronger lead going to Macau.

"Unfortunately, the strength the MG squad which they have in numbers means our focus is now really only for the drivers' title, and we'll give it our all in Macau to win the drivers' championship."

TCR China championship standings Drivers'

1 - Ma Qing Hua - Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Motorsport 03 TCR - 139 points 2 - Rodolfo Avila - MG XPOWER MG 6 TCR - 131 points 3 - Rainey He - MG XPOWER MG 6 TCR - 89 points 4 - Zhang Zhen Dong - MG XPOWER MG 6 TCR - 77 points 5 - Wu Yifan - 326 Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS - 68 points


1 - MG XPOWER - 279 points 2 - Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Motorsport - 213 points 3 - Autohome Racing Team - 84 points 4 - 326 Motorsport - 68 points 5 - Champ Motorsport - 41 points


1 - MG 6 XPOWER TCR - 279 points 2 - Lynk & Co 03 TCR - 261 points 3 - Audi RS 3 LMS - 122 points 4 - Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR - 16 points 5 - Cupra TCR - 9 points

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