One of the most spectacular and daring overtaking manoeuvres a driver can make is the late braking pass. Throwing the car down the inside of an unsuspecting rival, making the apex of the turn and not running into your fellow racer takes expert timing and precision. For his late braking move in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race in Beijing this weekend, Ma Qing Hua wins our latest Overtake of the Week award.
Competing in selected rounds of the WTCC calendar, the Chinese driver racing for Citroen was battling with the red Lada of James Thompson. Squabbling over eighth place, Qing Hua looked too far behind the British driver to attempt a pass into turn one on lap 17.
However, he carried good speed coming out of the final turn and began edging closer towards Thompson. The former British Touring Car Champion took his normal line as Qing Hua followed behind in his slipstream.
As they both took the racing line into the first corner at the Goldenport circuit, it still seemed that the white Citroen of Qing Hua was too far away to attack the Lada. However, he positioned his car just outside of Thompson’s right rear wheel, preparing to make a move if it was possible to break later.
Thompson hit the brakes and Qing Hua sharply moved to the right as he saw an opportunity to make the move. Thompson at this stage still appears unaware of the Citroen’s presence as he shapes up to take his normal line into the corner.
As both cars turned into the corner, Qing Hua was alongside Thompson. Fully committed to the move, both drivers had to race fair to ensure they did not make contact and wouldn’t crash. The British driver attempted to defend his position but did not push the Citroen off the track.
At the apex of the corner, both drivers were still vying for the position and raced extremely closely. However, with a great amount of respect shown to each other, they both stayed on the track and continued the battle to the exit of the corner.
The momentum that Qing Hua carried into the corner forced both of them wide. Thompson attempted to hang on to the position by keeping his speed up around the outside of the corner. However, the Citroen just kept its nose in front and the Lada drifted further wide. Even though the cars were practically touching, there was minimal contact between the two.
Thompson, recognising the position was lost, backed out of the corner and Qing Hua sped through.
Touring car racing is renowned for its physicality and wheel-to-wheel action, with rivals often clashing door-to-door. However, good racing is still clean racing no matter what the series. This move demonstrated excellent opportunism but was not a crazy lunge. Both drivers showed excellent reserve and caution to give each other enough room and exit the corner with both cars still intact and in the race.
Watch the overtake here and full coverage of the race: