Ma Qing Hua and Tom Coronel will both be back on the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship grid, it was confirmed overnight.
Chinese driver Ma has been added to an expanded four-car line-up with the works Citroën Racing team, while series veteran Coronel has been re-signed to ROAL Motorsport as Tom Chilton’s teammate.
Ma had previously been linked with a driving a second 2014-spec Citroën C-Elysée WTCC with the privateer Sébastien Loeb Racing squad, but will instead continue with the factory Citroën outfit, with whom he contested five rounds of the 2014 season. He will once again partner reigning champion José María López, and French teammates Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb, but this time contest each round of the season.
The former Caterham and HRTF1 Team reserve driver became the first Chinese driver to win an FIA world championship race when he took victory in the second race of his WTCC debut at Moscow Raceway.
“Last season, we tested lots of drivers to find one that had the potential to shine at the wheel of a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC in the FIA WTCC,” Citroën Racing team principal Yves Matton said.
“Our decision to go with Ma Qinq Hua was vindicated in his second race, in Russia, which he won. We hope to build on the experience he has gleaned from his first five meetings with a full racing programme in 2015.”
“I’m really happy to be carrying on with Citroën. As soon as I arrived in the team, I felt like part of a family. I have learnt a huge amount with Citroën Racing and through the other drivers. Competing in every round of the championship marks a new stage in my career. I know that Citroën are counting on me, and I promise to give it my all,” Ma added.
Meanwhile, series veteran Tom Coronel will return for his eleventh season of racing in the WTCC and his fifth consecutive year with Roberto Ravaglia and Aldo Preo’s ROAL Motorsport team. The Dutchman will again pilot the outfit’s second Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1, which will undergo a radical and striking livery change thanks to a major sponsorship injection by global logistics group DHL.
Despite going winless in the season and having to miss an entire round due to major chassis damage, Coronel had a consistent 2014 campaign finished as the best placed of the Chevrolet runners in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Looking to build on the stability that a continuation with the same team brings, Coronel was optimistic about his chances in 2015.
“Preparations for the new year started right after the end of the WTCC season,” he said. “Being able to race for another season is great and I think I am one of the longest-standing drivers in the series. This will be the fifth year together with ROAL Motorsport; that is giving me lot of confidence and a good feeling.”
“I am pleased to be able to continue the co-operation with Tom Coronel,” team principal Roberto Ravaglia added.
“We know him very well, he is part of our family. Last year [he] was one the best drivers of the championship although he was forced to miss two races. We want to race at the highest level, but our target will be to compete for victories and titles in the Yokohama Trophy. With Coronel and Chilton we have a very reliable couple of drivers.”
Images via FIA WTCC Media and ROAL Motorsport