This weekend Ma Qing Hua will make history as he becomes the first Chinese driver to take part in the FIA World Rallycross Championship as it heads to Silverstone for the Speedmachine festival.
Manfred Stohl‘s STARD Racing team will give the 30-year-old his World RX debut after he made the decision to shine a light the Chinese motorsport industry.
“We are very active in China since more than 5 years already,” said Stohl. “Be it me as a driver inseries like CRC (Chinese Rally Championship), or my R&D business STARD and racing team Stohl Racing in various categories and we even have our own workshop there.
“Generally I expect that both, Chinese motorsport and international motorsport will benefit a lot from this project.”
With a full focus on his Formula E duties, Ma Qing Hua was reluctant to join the World RX grid with STARD, “Initially, I was a bit skeptical when I heard that STARD runs such a big undertaking with absolutely no manufacturer backing at all” said the Chinese driver.
It wouldn’t be long before Stohl and his team had won him over, “The first test session fully convinced me when I saw how the team more than just compensates the lower budget, compared to the works supported teams.
“So despite a lot of unknowns for me before the first race, it feels good to be in a fully professional team with a very fast car.” he adds.
“I am very curious how quick I will be able to adapt to these new requirements and highly motivated to get behind the wheel at Silverstone.”
While there has been some opposition to the electric future of the series, this is something that attracted Ma Qing Hua.
“Despite having had many other options, the electric future of the series was another important detail for me, as of course everybody knows how much China is pushing for electric mobility.
“Based on this fact, I am particularly happy to join the team which has developed the first ever all electric RX supercar 2 years ago and is helping to shape this exciting future of rallycross.”
STARD owner Stohl believes in his choice of driver ahead of his debut for the team, “I am absolutely sure that Ma Qing Hua has huge potential in World RX, based on a great pace he had already shown in the test sessions comparing him for example with our permanent driver Janis Baumanis.
While Stohl sees the promise in the Chinese driver, he is realistic about the expectations this weekend, “This sport is too unique and unlike anything else in the racing world. You need circuit and rally driver skills at the same time, especially at the start, which is difficult.
“All of this surely requires some ‘assimilation time’ which, I had also experienced myself when racing the full 2015 season, and further also expect to apply for such a talented and experienced driver like Ma.
“So we are really excitedly looking forward to Speedmachine without any big pressure on the driver or team,
“We hope for a good first race and important experience for Ma to build on for the remaining season and potential World RX future with him.”