Ma Qing Hua takes second career win in red flagged second race in Portugal

Ma Qing Hua won his second race with Citroën and his first of 2015 at the Circuito Vila Real in a race which saw three major incidents taking out a number of front runners during the race, with a crash for Lada’s Nicky Catsburg on lap 12 bringing out a red flag which ended the race prematurely.

There was action from the start, with Ma getting away well from pole position to keep the lead ahead of Citroën team-mate Yvan Muller, while there was drama behind as Honda’s Tiago Monteiro tried to threat the needle of the two Lada Vestas of Jaap van Lagen and Nicky Catsburg ahead of him and made contact with van Lagen’s car, ripping the front-left wheel off of the car and crashing into the barriers, with both drivers instantly out of the race.

The safety car was called and held the field in place for five laps before the race was resumed. Ma started to pull away from Muller, while Catsburg was now in third and defending against Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini for third during the middle phase of the race.

The Lada driver was able to keep the chasing pack of Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz, Sébastien Loeb and José María López behind for four laps before a mistake allowed the Italian past.

Catsburg lost pace up to Turn 25, with Zengo’s Norbert Michelisz diving down the inside while Sébastien Loeb tried to get around the outside in a pincer movement, but both Michelisz and Loeb were turned into each other over the nose of Catsburg’s Lada and Loeb was spun out, hitting the barriers sideways on and was out of the race.

Catsburg now fell behind López, who was now battling Michelisz for fifth, before Catsburg slid out and hit the wall two laps later, severely damaging the front-right his Lada and was out of the race, leaving a trail of debris across the track and forcing the officials to red flag the race.

Ma therefore picked up his second career victory, his first since Moscow last season, with Muller second and Tarquini third, with Norbert Michelisz taking the independents’ class victory with four.

López minimised the damage to Muller in the standings with fifth, and the gap is now 55 points heading to the next round of the championship at Motegi, Japan on September 13th.