Chinese drivers Ma Qinghua and Jiang Tengyi will be sent to South Africa in June for further training in the Volkswagen A3 Racing Series after showing outstanding performances at A1 Team China's driver qualifying competition on Saturday at the Zhuhai International Circuit.

Five young drivers aged between 18-24 took part in the Formula Renault race, with 18 year-old Ma from Shanghai leading all the nation's emerging drivers with the best lap time of 1 minute 36.873 seconds.

"It is very rare that Chinese drivers get the chance to take part in world class motoring events. I was rather nervous today. Thank you to A1 Team China for giving me this opportunity," said Ma.

The 20 year-old Jiang finished second, only 0.115 seconds off the leader's pace.

A total of eight drivers were divided into two groups with the top two from Group One heading for South Africa in early June.

"It is very good A1 Grand Prix has come to the Chinese people. These drivers performed very well and I hope they will make rapid progress when they go to South Africa for high level training," said Shi Tianshu, President of China Autosports Federation (FASC).

A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport, will pit drivers against each other for the pride of their country. Spectators will see national flags displayed on their race cars and hear the national anthems played on the podium.

"Given that all the cars have the same engine, chassis, body and tyres, the driver will be the key determinant in any victory," said Shi. "Moreover, it is not only a victory for a team or driver; it is more for his country. I hope the Chinese drivers have the ambition to challenge every driver from the world. Right now, they must work even harder to improve their skill. I am confident that the Chinese diver will win the competition," Shi added.

To highlight the importance of China, the final stage of the A1 Grand Prix series will take place in China, with the host city yet to be determined. With co-operation between FASC and A1 Team China, Shi believes the development of China's motorsport and commerce is bound to benefit.



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