Ma Qing Hua blasts away opposition in second free practice in Shanghai

Ma Qing Hua has continued to be the fastest man of the day, topping the time sheets in the second free practice session this morning in Shanghai, host of the tenth round of the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship season. The Chinese driver was significantly faster than his Citroën team-mates in the final practice before the qualifying session.

The WTCC field took to a sunny and dry track for the second practice, which was again free from troubles on track.

José María López led in the initial stages of the session, followed by Münnich Motorsport’s Stefano D’Aste. But half way through the practice time, Ma Qing Hua improved by over a second the register of the reigning champion, to set a best lap of 1:51.217.

The Chinese driver from Citroën Racing would remain unbeaten, with the Chevrolet RML contingent taking good advantage of their second and new set of tyres in the latter part of the session. Craft Bamboo’s Grégoire Demoustier was second fastest, 0.604 seconds behind Ma, and was followed by fellow Chevrolet RML drivers, the ROAL Motorsport pair of Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel.

Reigning champion López was fifth, unable to improve his time on his final run and finishing the session over a second slower than Ma. Hugo Valente was sixth, followed by Rob Huff, top man for Lada Sport. Sebastien Loeb was eighth, with John Filippi and Mehdi Bennani closing the top 10.

Honda struggled during the session, with Gabriele Tarquini being the fastest Civic WTCC around the circuit in 11th place, although 1.634 seconds off the pace. Championship contender Yvan Muller also had a difficult session, finishing in 12th.

Local hero Ma Qing Hua felt hopeful for the fight for the pole position: “It would be nice. We are still working on the balance, and we have small things to improve, but we are doing well. I don’t feel pressure from myself, but I will try to do my best to focus and do my job in the afternoon.”

Qualifying for tomorrow’s races starts at 14:30 local time, 8:30 CEST (GMT + 2).