*Chinese driver’s preparations for World Touring Car Championship return in full swing
*Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée awaits former WTCC race winner
*Ma: “The top 10 drivers are very close, it’s going to be a hard race”
With Ma Qing Hua's FIA World Touring Car Championship return getting ever closer, this is what China's finest has had to say ahead of WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau.
With one week to go before your return to the FIA World Touring Car Championship at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau how are you feeling?
“I’m getting more and more excited. I’ve done some simulator sessions and I am keeping up my physical training. I will do more simulator work in the coming days but when I arrive in Macau next week I’ll go directly to the track because every year the surface is a little bit different.”
How hard will it be to make your WTCC comeback at one of the toughest tracks in the world?
“It’s never easy, it’s always difficult to race especially at this street race. As the recent races in China and Japan have proved, the top 10 is very close and very competitive for everyone so it’s going to be a hard race.”
What’s your initial strategy for the weekend?
“I will use Free Practice 1 as a full testing session, not too much set-up work but getting mileage in the car again on this track. The more experience you have of this track, the more confident you are to push. You can gain more at this track with confidence than a better set-up. If I am quite happy with the car in FP1 I will do as much laps in FP2 as I can.”
Did your track knowledge from 2014 come back to you on the simulator?
“Yes, but it’s a difficult track because there are many different parts to this track, the first sector and the last sector. There is one corner at very low speed, the tight Melco hairpin, which is full-course yellow. Then you have some very high-speed corners so it’s a difficult balance and you have to manage your driving as well to compromise this. The only thing we cannot do in the simulator is check the track condition, the track improvement from the FP1 to the race. FP1 is the clean track session when it’s very slippery with no grip and you have to be careful. It’s very easy to make a mistake, to miss the braking point. You can push but always keep a coin in your pocket.”
Your last Macau appearance ended in a crash. What memories do you have of that?
“I was pretty fine from the practice sessions but we did a mistake with the set-up for the qualifying so I had a bad position to start the race. I started P11 for the first race and finished eighth, which was quite good but I tried to be better in the second race and maybe I pushed too much. In the last corner when I did overtaking, I didn’t realise off the racing line it’s quite dirty. I lost the grip completely, I crashed into the wall but this is all about experience. I know how to manage it better to avoid the accident and this experience will help me next week.”
What would represent a satisfactory Macau weekend for you?
“Just to be there I will be happy but for sure it’s important to finish the races. Because accidents often happen at Macau I want to keep it safe, to finish the race but I will also push hard and get the best result I can for a private team. For sure I want to prove what I can do.”
And finally a word on your car livery, which features the colours of the Chinese flag?
“It’s a good design. It looks very nice, especially to race in Macau with this livery it’s quite special. Thanks for the design team and the team to do this great job. I’m looking forward to driving this beauty on track.”
Recent Ma Qing Hua press releases
Ma on a mission: Chinese star returns to WTCC Macau
Ma Qing Hua's WTCC comeback car livery revealed
WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau, the Suncity Group Macau Guia Race, will run to a new format with the Opening Race and Main Race taking place on separate days. While the timetable adjustment will result in a more advantageous international broadcast slot for the Opening Race (due to begin at 14h10 local time, 07h10 CET), the extended opening of parc ferme between the two counters will give teams maximum opportunity to repair and ready their cars for Sunday’s Main Race, which is scheduled from 10h40 local time (03h40 CET). Usually, OSCARO Repair Time is restricted to 20 minutes with five minutes for refuelling only.