Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Alex Liu has been granted permission to start from the back of the grid in the BMW 320si, after failing to qualify within the 107% time at Shanghai.
The Macanese driver is taking part in only his second ever WTCC event this weekend, and has taken over Engstler’s normally aspirated third car, driven by Masaki Kano two weeks ago at Suzuka.
Liu is one of five drivers running in cars powered by two-litre normally aspirated engines this weekend, as are permitted on a race-by-race basis which has brought the field up to 28 cars, with even more due to take part at the Macau finale in two weeks’ time.
Liu’s best time was 9.883 seconds down on Rob Huff’s time from Q1, and 9.991 seconds down on Alain Menu’s time set in Q2, which ultimate decides what the 107% cut-off is. Liu has been granted permission by the stewards however to take part in tomorrow’s races, as is usually the case for cars outside of 107%, even though Liu’s not been within 107% of the leaders all weekend.
The four other normally aspirated cars, two Chevrolet Cruzes, one Chevrolet Lacetti and an older JAS Motorsport-built Honda Accord, all qualified within the 107% time.
A penalty was also assessed to the SUNRED-powered SR León 1.6T of Hugo Valente. The 20-year-old French driver’s car was deemed to have exceeded the boost limit in the latter part of the session and so all his times after that point were deleted, though he’d already set his fastest time earlier in the session and so his grid position is unaffected.