Close title battle to recommence at Yancheng
Ford, Kia and Honda head to Yancheng for the penultimate round of this year’s China Touring Car Championship with three drivers in close contention for the drivers’ title, with Changan Ford FRD Team’s Andy Yan leading the standings by five points ahead of Kia Racing’s Jason Zhang, with Honda’s Henry Ho just four more points behind.
Hong Kong driver Yan took the lead of the championship last time out in Shanghai after winning the race while capitalising on retirement for Zhang’s Kia K3S. However, the Kia has been strong all season and can be expected to be on the pace at the 2.8km circuit this weekend.
Changan Ford FRD Team will field an altered line-up, with Darryl O’Young missing this weekend due to commitments in the GT Asia Series with Craft-Bamboo Racing at Buriram. As a result, former Teamwork Motorsport driver Samuel Hsieh will drive O’Young’s Ford Focus saloon this weekend with the task of supporting Yan’s title bid.
Although Ford now lead the drivers’ standings with Yan, Kia still have a comfortable lead in the manufacturers’ championship, with 97 points to Ford’s 89. Dongfeng Honda, which missed the Korean round of the championship, are third on 60 with Haima on 19.
Yancheng is effectively Dongfeng Honda Racing’s home race, and after a strong performance in Shanghai by drivers Martin Xie and Henry Ho, finishing second and third behind Yan, with Xie having started from the back of the grid, Kia and Ford may not have it all their own way this weekend, with the pace of the JAS Motorsport-developed Civic a match for the reigning champions Ford and the improved Kia K3S.
In the Super Production Cup class race, the battle is chiefly between the Shanghai VW 333 Racing team-mates Zhang Zhen Dong and Wang Rue for the drivers’ title, but will still face strong competition from the ever improving Teamwork Citroëns of Alex Hui and Sunny Wong.
“I go to Yancheng with high confidence,” said Hui. “Last year I drove there and was in the top three in every practice session until qualifying, where a technical problem prevented me from positioning my car where we should have been. This weekend I have confidence in myself, our cars and the team and I believe we can out-perform our rivals.”