Photo: WTCC Media

Ma Qing Hua replaces Ben Lessennes at Boutsen Ginion Racing

Ma Qing Hua will take over from Belgian driver Benjamin Lessennes for the Chinese rounds of the World Touring Car Cup at Ningbo and Wuhan in China.

The 30-year-old Chinese driver last raced a touring car at the Guia Race of Macau last year, then driving a Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysée WTCC, but also has experience of TCR after racing a car in the TCR Asia/China series at Shanghai last year, then competing in a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Teamwork Motorsport.

“I am really happy to be racing in my home country with this new regulation car,” said Ma.

“It’s really good to be in this series, even though I don’t know the car and have not had one lap at either of the circuits. I’m also jumping in at the middle of the season when everybody else will have a lot more experience than me.

“It will be tough with only two practice sessions before qualifying but I really enjoy fighting with drivers like Rob Huff, Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller and really enjoy the competition. I would like to thank everybody for this opportunity, I really appreciate it. I will take it step-by-step and do my best to finish the races to get the maximum track time possible.”

Team principal Olivia Boutsen added: “It’s been a challenging first season in WTCR for us, but through three top-five finishes, we’ve shown that we can fight for good results at many circuits – a lot of which have been new to us. Ningbo and Wuhan are two more new tracks for the team, but we are excited about having a driver with Ma Qing Hua’s experience on board and look forward to welcoming him to our team.”

Lessennes, the reigning TCR Benelux Touring Car Championship drivers’ champion, had been filling in for Tiago Monteiro during the first six events of the season.

Monteiro’s still targeting a return to racing after recently testing the car, but a return to the race track has been ruled out until the Japanese round of the WTCR at the earliest.