Ex-Formula 1 Friday driver Ma Qing Hua has joined Citroen Racing‘s World Touring Car Championship project to race a fourth car at five rounds in 2014.
The 26-year-old will return to the touring car arena having claimed the China Touring Car Championship 1600cc class in 2011.
With limited single-seater experience in Formula 3, A1 Grand Prix and Superleague Formula, Ma then went on to join former F1 backmarkers HRT in 2012. After testing for the team and managing to obtain a superlicence, he then took part in free practice sessions in Italy, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the United States.
For 2013 he joined Caterham, taking part in the GP2 season opener in Malaysia and F1 free practice at his home Grand Prix in China before departing soon afterwards.
Citroen Director of Communications, Marketing and Sport Arnaud de Lamothe began by explaining that China had become a crucial market for the French car marque.
“In 2013, China became our number one market in terms of vehicles manufactured,” said de Lamothe. “We achieved 26% growth in 2013, outperforming the market as a whole, which grew by 19%. Orders for the C-Elysee, which is produced at our Wuhan plant, have already exceeded our objectives.
“For 2014, our ambition is to sell more than 100,000 units of this model on the Chinese market. For all these reasons, and with the support of the joint venture Dongfeng Citroen, we wanted to have a Chinese driver competing in one of our C-Elysee WTCCs.”
However, Citroen Racing boss Yves Matton was keen to stress that Ma had been chosen as their Chinese representative after strong performances in evaluation tests against other candidates.
“We chose Ma Qing Hua not just for his nationality, but also for his performances,” explained Matton. “He made a positive impression on us during various tests in the C-Elysee WTCC.
“We won’t be able to enter four cars in every round of the championship in this first season, but we’ve managed to put together a coherent programme. Ma will compete in the last two European rounds – Moscow and Spa-Francorchamps – before lining up for his two home meetings, in Shanghai and Macao. The fifth race in his programme will be determined at a later date.”
Ma, who joins Yvan Muller, Sebastien Loeb and Jose Maria Lopez in Citroen’s line-up for its maiden WTCC campaign, said: “It is a great honour to have been chosen by Citroen Racing for this ambitious programme.
“I really enjoyed working with the team during the test sessions I was invited to take part in. I am really excited about the opportunity to race for a manufacturer with such a winning record and I will do my best to help Citroen to keep winning. It would, of course, be particularly special for me to have a good result in Macau and my hometown of Shanghai. But for now, I’m just looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the C-Elysee WTCC.”