Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua made it into the history books yesterday during the WTCC Race of Russia, by becoming the first ever Chinese driver to win a FIA World Championship race. Hua won the second race of the two Russian rounds even after having a bad start that saw him drop to third. In the end, Hua driving the fourth works Citroen crossed the finish line first ahead of Citroen driver Yvan Muller while Honda driver Mehdi Bennani took third.
Race one’s win went to Jose Maria Lopez who is also leading in the drivers’ standings. Lopez saw an opening through an incident caused by Gabriele Tarquini who was trying to pass Monteiro but hit him instead. In the end, Tarquini managed to finish the race in second place. Sebastien Loeb finished in third. Reigning world champion Yvan Muller finished the race in fourth. This was Lopez’s fourth win of the season and he now leads the championship with 209 points.
In Race Two, Hua was struggling for second place alongside Michelisz but ultimately took the lead on Lap 7. The works Honda cars of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro retired after developing technical problems, leaving only Mehdi Bennani who finished in third. Tiago Monteiro was given a five place grid penalty for hitting Tom Chilton during the second race and the penalty will take effect in the next round at the Spa.
Quotes from the podium finishers:
Ma Qing Hua, 1st in Race 2:
It wasn’t easy yesterday in practice and qualifying, but gradually we managed to improve. For the races the car was just perfect. At the start of the second race I had a good scrap with Norbert Michelisz for second place, which soon became first place, once the leader had to pit. I did my very best to make a clean pass which took a few laps, and after that I could enjoy the race from the front.
José María López, 1st in Race 1:
The start of the first race was crucial, but then again not for the full 100% as I was also thinking about scoring points for the championship, rather than just trying everything in the first corner to take the lead. But Tarquini apparently had an issue so that left the door wide open and I could gradually extend my lead on every lap. It’s always nice to start the weekend with a win! Then in the second race I couldn’t get the car in first gear on the grid. I tried hard and broke the gear linkage, so that was it.
Gabriele Tarquini, 2nd in Race 1:
At the start I was on the inside of Turn 1 and in a position to potentially take the lead when I got hit from behind. I briefly lost control of the car and that sort of decided the race for me. From then on I just concentrated on finishing second. My pace was good, the car was excellent and we were nearly as fast as the Citroën cars but second was all I could manage.