Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing had a perfect start to its 2021 TCR Asia International Series challenge, with Ma Qing Hua winning both races, with a 1-2-3 finish in Race 1, and a 1-2 in Race 2 the team and the Lynk & Co 03 TCR scored maximum points in the teams' and models' classifications.
Qualifying went perfectly for the team, with MA Qing Hua setting down an unbeatable time in the second part of qualifying, leading a 1-2-3 for the team with Jason ZHANG second, and Sunny WONG third fastest, with the three Lynk & Co 03 TCRs locking out the front of the field.
In the first race, the three drivers held station, with MA leading ZHANG and WONG, with WONG defending against one of the MGs, who was soon out of the race following an incident with another car.
The safety car was called as the MG was recovered, but when the race restarted, two other cars collided and the race was soon red-flagged as the cars were recovered and the barriers repaired.
The race resumed with just two laps of green flag running. MA was put under pressure by team-mate ZHANG, while there was some tension as WONG was passed by an Audi on the penultimate lap, but WONG kept close and put a move back on the Audi at the hairpin on the final lap, leaving it until two corners from the end to seal a perfect top three result for the team - the first for the Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing team.
On Sunday, with the top nine reversed following an overnight withdrawal by a competitor, WONG, ZHANG, and MA started seventh, eighth and ninth. WONG made a great start and was up to third by the first corner, but was pushed wide later on the lap by ZHANG Zhen Dong's MG and dropped to fifth behind team-mate Jason ZHANG.
ZHANG passed the MG of Rodolfo AVILA at Turn 2 on lap four, and then was embroiled in an epic battle with ZHANG Zhen Dong's MG for five laps, with MA Qing Hua soon joining the battle, as the two drivers hustled the MG.
ZHANG eventually pressured the MG driver into a mistake on lap eight, with MA also following him through into third, and the two drivers then caught and passed the Audi RS 3 LMS of YANG Xi to lead the race on the final lap.
ZHANG went wide in the final turn, which allowed MA to get a run up the inside and to pinch the win at the chequered flag by less than four-tenths of a second. Sunny WONG finished in 15th, after he was forced to stop and change tyres following a puncture.
MA Qing Hua leads the championship having scored the maximum 55 points available from the weekend, and with two 1-2 finishes, Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing lead the teams' championship, and Lynk & Co the models' standings with a perfect score from the weekend. The next round takes place at the Zhuzhou circuit on 11-13 June, where Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing won all four races last year.
MA Qing Hua said: "It's been a fantastic start to the season. The car has had magnificent pace all weekend, and we showed the true potential of the car in both races. While there were few green flag laps in Race 1, it was great to lead a well-deserved 1-2-3 for the team. Race 2 was a lot of fun, fighting my way through the order - each battle got harder as we went forwards. I'd like to thank the Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing team for all the hard work this weekend, which has really paid off."
Jason ZHANG said: _"I'm really pleased with the weekend overall. To finish on the podium in both races was a good start to the year. The battle with ZHANG Zhen Dong in Race 2 was really exciting; we raced really hard, but fair, but of course I'm most of all happy to have come out on top. It's a shame we weren't quite able to turn that into a win, but I'm second in the standings and we have a long season ahead." _
Sunny WONG said: "This was a great weekend for the team, and for me to get used to racing again after what feels like quite a long time since Macau. This is my first time racing the Lynk & Co at a racing circuit layout, and I'm learning about the car all of the time. There wasn't a lot to do in Race 1 except hold the MGs behind, which worked out. I had a great start in Race 2, but a puncture meant there was no chance of a good result for me, but I'm really glad for the team that they got another 1-2."
Ken LYU, team manager, said: "This was a fantastic start to the year for the team. To have been able to qualify 1-2-3 and then lockout our first full podium in Race 1 meant anything we could get from Race 2 was a bonus, and to convert the reversed grid into a 1-2 result with MA and ZHANG meant it was an amazing end to an already brilliant weekend. "We're now leading all three standings going to Zhuzhou, where we had fantastic results last year, so we're really looking forward to it."