Ma Qinghua scored his first victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO after holding off Norbert Michelisz in a hard-fought Race 3 at WTCR Race of Slovakia.
The Chinese driver was pushed hard by the BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver, but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR just held on to take the victory. His team-mate Kevin Ceccon capped a great weekend for Team Mulsanne by finishing just behind Michelisz in third, meaning the Italian team leave Slovakia with four podium finishes.
“This is the best we can get,” said a delighted Ma. “Thank you to team for all their hard work. This season has been a struggle, so I’m really happy for this win. It’s always the same story when you are in front: the car behind you is very quick! There was lots of pressure but I tried to calm down because one mistake could have destroyed everything. We’ll have a big party tonight!”
Starting third on the grid, Ma made a great launch off the line to drive between DHL Pole Position starter Nicky Catsburg and Michelisz to take a lead he would not lose. It soon emerged that BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Catsburg was struggling with a problem and after lap five he began to slip down the order, as the battle at front came down to a trhee-way fight between the two Alfas and Michelisz’s Hyundai. The Hungarian was pleased with his second place, following his third place in Race 1.
Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Niels Langeveld completed an encouraging weekend with a strong fourth place finish, having started seventh on the grid. He finished ahead of PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri. The Argentinian might have dropped a place from his starting position, but he fared better than his Honda team-mate Néstor Girolami. The Race 2 winner and #ROADTOMALAYSIA points leader was knocked off on lap one and was classified down in P24.
BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Augusto Farfus finished seventh ahead of Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing’s Aurélien Panis and Gabriele Tarquini, who at least scored points this time after a drive-through penalty for contact with Panis in Race 2 had dropped him down the order.
Wild Card entry Luca Engstler repeated his P10 from Race 1, ahead of Thed Björk who had a new radiator in his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR after trouble in Race 2. Catsburg clung on to finish in P12, ahead of Rob Huff who suffered a hit from behind by PWR Racing’s Daniel Haglöf, who finished the race in the pits. Yvan Muller and Gordon Shedden were the final points scorers.
Via FIA WTCR