Ma Qing Hua has led a 1-2-3 lockout for Teamwork Motorsport at the opening round of the TCR China championship and TCR Asia North Cup at Shanghai International Circuit, with the Lynk & Co cars recording a perfect result while main rivals MG had a disastrous race, with three of the four factory-run cars crashing out.
Reigning champion Ma had taken pole position in the morning’s qualifying session, ahead of his teammates Jason Zhang and Sunny Wong, while Martin Cao was the fastest qualifier for the MG XPower team in fourth ahead of MG teammate Zhang Zhen Dong.
At the start of the race, Ma led the way into Turn 1 ahead of Jason Zhang, while Zhang Zhen Dong quickly passed his teammate Cao for fourth.
Trouble was to strike soon however, as near the end of the first lap, Zhang Zhen Dong was out after he was hit by the Huffsport TM Audi of Yang Xi. Zhang stopped on track with a broken left-rear wheel, which brought the safety car out on lap two.
The race briefly restarted on lap five. The MG of Cao was lining up a pass on Wong’s Lynk & Co, then he suddenly darted to the right, but hadn’t seen his teammate Rodolfo Ávila coming down the inside. Cao turned himself across the nose of Avila’s MG 6 and into the inside barrier, totally wrecking Cao’s MG, with Avila also out with terminal damage.
The rest of the field circled around behind the safety car for two more laps before the race was red-flagged for 20 minutes as the organisers recovered the stricken cars and repaired the barrier.
The race was restarted with two laps of green flag running. Ma withstood pressure from teammate Zhang, while Wong lost third at the end of the penultimate lap to the 326 MMK Racing Team Audi of Wan Cheng Zhang, but Wong was able to retake the position after diving down the inside at the Turn 14 hairpin on the final lap.
The next race is tomorrow at 13:28 local time (07:28 CEST), with the Huffsport TM Audi RS 3 of Yang Xi due to start from pole position with the top ten from qualifying reversed. Live streaming at www.tcr-series.com.
Shanghai – Race 1
1. Ma Qing Hua (Shell Teamwork, Lynk & Co 03), 9 laps
2. Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang (Shell Teamwork, Lynk & Co 03), 1.971
3. Sunny Wong Yat Shing (Shell Teamwork, Lynk & Co 03), 4.051
4. Wang Cheng Zheng (326 MKK Racing Team, Audi RS 3 LMS), 4.532
5. Yang Xiao Wei (Z.Speed, Audi RS 3 LMS), 8.550
1. Ma Qing Hua 30 pts; 2. Jason Zhang 22; 3. Sunny Wong 18
Picture: TCR China