Martin Cao wins TCR China title, while Max Hart stars in Race 2
19 November 2023
Martin Cao Hong Wei secured the 2023 TCR China title at the season finale at Macau, claiming victory in Race 1, while a DNF in Race 2 didn’t stop him from being crowned champion, after title rival Jack Young failed to finish both races. In the second race, Max Hart claimed his maiden win in the series.
Race 1 - After a chaotic qualifying session, which was abandoned after four red flags in Q1, the free practice times were used to set the grid, which placed Hyundai N’s Andy Yan Cheuk Wai on pole ahead of his teammate Cao, with championship leader Young in sixth position. At the start, Yan allowed Cao into the lead, while Young had to dive around the stalled Honda of teammate André Couto who was third on the grid but then he was forced up against the wall by Zhang Zhen Dong and suffered terminal damage. The safety car was called as Young’s Honda was recovered and when the race resumed, Cao was given a head start at the green flag by Yan.
Cao went on to cruise to victory ahead of Yan and Zhang Zhen Dong, however both were penalised by 30 seconds after the race; Yan for leaving the gap behind the safety car to help his teammate, while Zhang for the incident with Young, which promoted Martin Xie and Yang Xiao Wei to the podium.
Race 2 – Hart started from pole and led the way ahead of the fast-starting Xie, while Yang was running in third. Couto had made a good start and was running fourth ahead of David Zhu Dao Wei, while new points leader Cao was right behind. Cao passed Zhu on lap two, before he made a lunge at Lisboa at lap later down the inside of both Couto and Yang, clambering into the barriers, leaving Couto half-blocking the corner, which in turn caught up teammate Young. Cao returned to the pits to retire, while Young now dropped to 12th, needing a win to stand any chance of securing the drivers’ title.
Young was on a charge and had driven up to ninth place before a safety car bunched the field back up with three laps to go, after Hong Kong star Aaron Kwok Fu Shing came together with Tony Chan Chun Leung’s Honda at Lisboa, with both retiring with damage. The race restarted with one lap to go, with Young quickly passing Rainey He Xiao Le before making contact with Zhu’s Lynk & Co, spinning the outgoing champion around, and with Young forced to retire. Hart held off Xie to secure his first win of the season, with Yang again finishing third.
Cao would be confirmed as the drivers’ champion on 178 points, 19 clear over Young.
Macau – Race 1
1. Martin Cao Hong Wei (Team Hyundai N, Hyundai Elantra N), 11 laps
2. Martin Xie Xin Zhe (Dongfeng Honda Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 11.296
3. Yang Xiao Wei (Z.Speed, Hyundai Elantra N), 13.702
Macau – Race 2
1. Max Hart (Z.Speed, Hyundai Elantra N), 9 laps
2. Martin Xie Xin Zhe (Dongfeng Honda Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 1.283
3. Yang Xiao Wei (Z.Speed, Hyundai Elantra N), 2.922
1. M. Cao, 178 pts; 2. J. Young, 159; 3. J. Zhang, 145
Picture: TCR China
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