Local racer and pace setter Ma Qing Hua has praised the decision of the officials in postponing World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) qualifying to Sunday, following damage to the circuit’s safety barriers.
Qualifying has been moved to Sunday morning in China after a crash in the supporting GT Asia Series compromised its integrity and necessitated lengthy repairs.
Ma had earlier set the pace in both of Saturday’s free practice sessions, leading the Chinese driver confident of being able to challenge for his first outright pole position in the championship.
“Everything went well today,” said Ma, who previously raced around the Shanghai International Circuit before taking his career to Europe. “I found a good rhythm in both sessions. We were planning to improve a few details to challenge for pole position, but that will have to wait for tomorrow now!”
Despite the interruptions to the schedule, Ma praised the decision of the officials to delay qualifying.
“I think the officials took the right decision by making safety their number-one priority. Of course, it will make our task a little more difficult. The track conditions will be different and we will have to react very quickly to adapt our setups.”
With the drivers having little time to get in the groove before qualifying on Sunday morning, Ma admits it will be a challenge to be at 100% from the off.
“The main goal to achieve is the set-up side as the temperature will change in the morning and the track condition will be unknown,” added Ma. Normally we use FP2 to set up the car to fit the condition for the afternoon in the qualifying. Today with the setting we are not 100 per cent sure for tomorrow morning and that’s a big challenge for our engineers to gamble a bit for the set-up side.”