Zhuhai, April 18, 2021 – The 2021 Chinese motorsport season got off to an eventful start with the first meeting of the Zhuhai Motorsports Association (ZMA) Club Race of the year. The action-packed 15-lap race on the 4.318km Zhuhai International Circuit saw the newest member of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia family, Cao Qi, take a second place class finish on his debut in his Champ Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4. Lu Zhenming took his Xinghai TPR Racing Audi RS 3 LMS to second place in the A3 category for TCR machinery ahead of Champ Motorsports’ Zeng Weiye.
The race saw the first scores on the board for the 2021 Audi Sport Asia Trophy, with Cao Qi’s class podium sending him straight to the top of the leaderboard on 252 points. Lu Zhenming lies second on 168 points with Zheng Weiye in third on 140. Lu’s team mate, Li Jinchao, finished fourth in the TCR class in the team’s second Audi RS 3 LMS to put him fourth in the Audi Sport Asia Trophy points on 112.
Quick from the start, Cao Qi took class pole position despite the single 20-minute qualifying session being interrupted by three red flags. Although he dropped down the order at the rolling start behind his more experienced rivals, Cao had already launched his comeback when the safety car was called out on lap five. At the restart on lap eight, Cao got away cleanly, putting his head down and heading for the first podium finish of his career.
Experienced campaigner Billy Lo took TCR class pole position in his Tianshi Racing Team (TSRT) Audi RS 3 LMS. After being involved in the racing incident which brought out the safety car, he dropped to third in class behind Lu Zhenming. Champ Motorsport’s Zeng Weiye was handed a drive through penalty which he took behind the safety car. Rejoining at the back of the pack he mounted a strong recovery to finish third in class.
The closing laps saw Lu fend off all comers to hold on to second, but disaster struck for Lo when a puncture forced his retirement just two laps from the flag.
TSRT’s Gong Wei just missed out on a podium in the A2 category for GTC entries, while there was heartbreak for Gaoge Racing Team’s Lin Xuejun. While challenging for second in class, a last-lap racing incident saw Lin shunted off the track. The subsequent spin ended his race just metres from the flag.
Zhuhai Motorsports Association Club Race results
2. #6 Cao Qi/Champ Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4
2. #68 Lu Zhenming/Xinghai TPR Racing Audi RS 3 LMS
3. #2 Zeng Weiye/Champ Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS
4. #21 Li Jinchao/Xinghai TPR Racing Audi RS 3 LMS
DNF. #36 Billy Lo/Tianshi Racing Team Audi RS 3 LMS
4. #8 Gong Wei/Tianshi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GTC
DNF. #77 Lin Xuejun/Gaoge Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GTC