NOVEMBER 20 2023 – RACE REPORT MACAU
Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing secured the teams’ title in an epic season finale at the Guia circuit in Macau, with the efforts from all five drivers ZHANG Zhi Qiang, David ZHU, Sunny WONG, Aaron KWOK, and ZHU Yuan Jie resulting in other trophy for the Lynk & Co in China.
The team managed to score enough points at a circuit which was very tough for the team’s Lynk & Co 03s, which didn’t favour the long straights at Macau, though the car had tremendous pace in the uphill and twisty sections of the circuit to have good overall lap speed.
The performance of the team and car allowed drivers ZHANG Zhi Qiang, David ZHU, and Sunny WONG to secure 28 points and keep them in the lead of the standings come the end of the weekend.
After two relatively quiet practice sessions on Thursday, the qualifying session on Friday proved to be incredibly dramatic, with four red flags thrown within the scheduled Q1 session – which led to the whole of qualifying being abandoned and with practice times used to set the grid.
Unfortunately, this left the team’s drivers in relatively unrepresentative positions on the grid, with ZHANG starting P6, David ZHU P9, WONG P14, ZHU Yuan Jie P16, and Aaron KWOK P20.
In the first race of the weekend, ZHANG had a great start and was up to fourth. The race was then held behind the safety car at the end of lap one due to incident in the first sector, and when the race resumed, ZHANG was trying his best not to lose ground.
The Lynk & Co 03 TCR was struggling in the straights, which left him vulnerable to attack at the end of the main straight and into Lisboa, where he lost two positions on lap five.
ZHANG would cross the line seventh, with ZHU eighth, but would both move up to fifth and sixth following penalties for two contenders ahead.
Sunny WONG recovered from 14th to finish 11th, while Aaron KWOK finished a magnificent seventh on his Macau debut, progressing three places from his starting position in the #88 car.
The drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles were now gone, however the main focus of the weekend was always the teams’ title, and the combined scores of ZHANG and ZHU had made sure the squad went into Sunday with a nine-point lead in the standings.
For Sunday’s final race, ZHU would line up second on the grid, but bogged down when the lights went out and slipped to fifth.
ZHU would then give way to champion apparent Martin CAO, who succeeded to divebomb past two cars into Lisboa on lap three, taking out himself and Macau racer André Couto, with all of Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing’ drivers successfully manoevering around the incident and gaining track position.
With ZHANG Zhi Qiang now behind ZHU, the two drivers swapped positions before the first safety car of the race was called on lap six. This was after Aaron KWOK and Tony CHAN came together at the exit of Lisboa. KWOK’s car was damaged and he was forced to stop out on circuit requiring recovery.
The race was restarted with one lap to go, with ZHANG leading ZHU in sixth place, with the team set to score enough points to clinch the teams’ title, when ZHU was knocked around at the top of the hill by the charging Honda of Jack YOUNG.
While ZHU was now out of the points, thankfully Sunny WONG was in position to move up ninth place and pick up more points in the teams’ classification.
At the end of the year, Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing secured the teams’ title by three points over Hyundai N, and four points ahead of Dongfeng Honda Racing Team, in a year of intense multi-manufacturer and international competition.
The team’s had to work hard to hold back its rivals at the end of the year. The team’s season started well with its first generation Lynk & Co 03, a carwhich made its competitive debut in 2019, making it significantly older than its competition in 2023. However, as the season went on, its rivals were a tougher challenge, and it was all about making the most of what the team had to make sure it stayed ahead at the finish.
Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing thanks its commercial partners Lynk & Co China and Shell for an incredible season, and all its drivers this year who’ve helped it to its championship glory, Aaron KWOK, David ZHU, GENG Rui, Sunny WONG, MA Qing Hua, ZHU Yuan Jie, and ZHANG Zhi Qiang.
What the drivers said
David ZHU #9
I’m very happy for the team, to have won the teams’ championship this year with such strong opposition is a fantastic achievement.We didn’t have the pace to fight and overtake here. We saw the same with the Lynk & Cos in the TCR World Tour as well, but we were able to work hard on our strategy, dig down deep and score good points, and ultimately come away with our main goal this weekend, which was to be the teams’ champions.
ZHANG Zhi QIang #36
It’s a great feeling to have won the teams’ title again. This weekend at Macau, we weren’t in a position to fight for victory, but we were able to maximise what we had and do the job we needed to do.We can see the competition has become a lot tougher in the championship now, and that’s exciting for the future, but that also means we’ll need to work hard in the off-season to make sure we can come back fighting for all the titles next year.
Sunny WONG #12
It’s been a good weekend. I’ve been with this team for a long time, and I’m so happy at every success we achieve, and another teams’ title is a positive end to a challenging year.After I’d made a mistake in qualifying, I had a pair of trouble-free races to pick up some strong finishes and good points to help the team towards its goal.I can’t wait to see what we can achieve next year.
ZHU Yuan Jie #92
It’s been a fantastic first Macau for me with Shell Teamwork Lynk & Co Racing. We sadlystopped in the first race, but I’m happy I was able to make it to finish my first Macau in the second race.It’s been a brilliant year racing with Teamwork in the Lynk & Co, and a strong year of learning for me after winning the Geely Group Motorsport Development Driver Program scholarship last year, and I’m hoping for a long future in touring car racing.