WTCR Race 3 flash: Ma beats Michelisz for first win
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 squad leaves Slovakia with four podium finishes.
“This is the best we can get,” said a delighted Ma. “Thank you to the 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 car-related problem and after lap five he began to slip down the order, as the battle at the front came down to a three-way fight between the two Alfas and Michelisz’s Hyundai. The Hungarian was pleased with his runner-up finish, following his third place in Race 1.
Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Niels Langeveld completed an encouraging weekend with a strong fourth place, 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 after an electrical issue struck.
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.
Wildcard entry Luca Engstler repeated his P10 from Race 1 following pre-race repairs, 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.