Red RC was excited to be back in China recently and to bring to a close our 2023 race coverage with the inaugural Foshan Invitation RC Championship at the new GDC Indoor track in the country’s central Guangdong Province. The biggest international race hosted in the country post Covid, FIRC attracted a number of international racers to the impressive indoor track including former World Champion Ronald Völker. Under the guidance of Gavin Kowk, the track has big future ambitions for establishing FIRC as one of Asia’s major annual international touring car race events to enable the country’s emerging RC talents to gauge themselves against some of the best in the business. Check out the race’s highlights video from a hugely successful first running of the event.
Last weekend saw the inaugural running of the Foshan Invitational RC Championship at the GDC Indoor Track in China’s central Guangdong Province. The biggest international race hosted in the country post Covid, FIRC attracted a number of international racers to the impressive indoor track with former World Champion Ronald Volker taking the win ahead of an impressive drive from Chinese racer Vening Zhuo with Japan’s Yugo Nagashima completing the podium. During our coverage of the event we featured 10 cars from 5 different manufacturers for our Chassis Focus including some of China’s top Modified Touring Car racers and we have compiled them all here in our latest Chassis Focus index.
Mugen Seiki’s Ronald Volker has won the hugely successful inaugural Foshan Invitational RC Championship in China. One of a number of international drivers to make the trip to the new GDC Indoor track in the central Guangdong Province, Volker completed the perfect weekend taking the TQ honours before converting that in the overall win with victory in A2. The biggest challenger to the former World Champion would come in the form of Chinese driver Vening Zhuo who was justly rewarded for his impressive showing with second overall. Highly complimentary of Zhuo talents, Volker only discovered during the event that the driver keeping him honest all weekend was the very same person he had been offering racing advice too after he had reached out to the professional racer through social media. An event created to give Chinese racers experience of international competition, it would be Japanese visitor and Xpress team driver Yugo Nagashima who would complete the podium for what race organiser Gavin Kwok is aiming to establish into one of Asia’s major annual international touring car races.
Reacting to his win, the race bringing a close to his 2023 season, Volker said, ‘I’m very happy to win the inaugural Foshan Invitational Championship. It is definitely an amazing facility and I am glad to have got the opportunity to come here. Big thanks to Gavin (Kwok) and Jackie (Shum) who organised the trip and for me to participate. I’m also very happy with the speed of my LRP powered MTC2R, its a nice way to end the season’. On the second A-Main the German said, ‘It again started off good. Vening was really good and followed me for 5 or 6 laps, then he lost some pace however he showed he has a lot of talent and is one to watch for the future. A funny story about Vening is that he messaged me before looking for some tips on racing and I was happy to help. I didn’t realise when I got here who he was and when I did discover it was the same guy I had been messaging I thought ‘shit he can drive’. It’s a pretty cool story.’
Taking the win in A3 just ahead of Marco Ma, Zhuo declared himself, ‘Happy but not super happy’. He continued, ‘Volker was super fast. He is one of the top guys and racing him motivates me to want to get quicker and become a better driver. I am always asking Ronald questions on Facebook and it was nice to get to race against him. FIRC has been really good event to show the level of driving at the top.’ On his A3 win, he said, ‘the start was perfect but towards the end I was not very focused and made a little mistake but I happy that I could finish second overall behind Ronald’.
Securing the final step on the podium with a trio of third places in the A-Mains, Nagashima said, ‘this track didn’t suit my car so I’m happy to get a podium’. Also a podium finisher at the recent FEMCA Championships in Thailand, the 28-year-old had started the event as the Top Seed but admitted he struggled to adapt his car to the changing track conditions. Despite this he said he enjoyed the inaugural event and looks forward to it becoming an annual fixture for touring car racers.
Having targeted a podium finish coming into the event, Ma was disappointed with his 4th place finish. The Xray driver said, ‘Today was a bad luck day. In the morning practice the car was hard to drive so we made a set-up change but it was still hard to drive in A1 & 2. For A3 we decided to go back to the set-up we had in the morning practice because it was good yesterday and it worked’. Finishing A3 just 0.272 behind Zhuo, it was a somewhat frustrating finish for the third place qualifier but only his third international event he said it was a good experience.
Ronald Volker has taken the opening A-Main at the inaugural Foshan Invitational RC Championship in China, the Mugen Seiki driver kept honest over the 5-minutes by the Awesomatix of Chinese driver Vening Zhuo as chaos broke out behind. With race organiser Gavin Kwok’s goal of hosting the race at his GDC Indoor track to highlight the international level to local racers, Volker put on the perfect display as he lead the field away from the TQ. Only Zhuo would be able to hang with the former World Champion as the pair quickly pulled away and gapped the other 8 starters. Behind all the attention was on the battle for 3rd with the pack building up behind a struggling Marco Ma who had Xray team Jerry Dai all over his back bumper. Six laps in as they came on to the straight Ma got out of shape setting a chain of crashes with Xpress’ Yugo Nagashima coming out the best of it in 3rd having found him push out of position and down to ninth on the opening lap. With Volker and Zhuo quickly in traffic the both navigated it well to with Nagashima holding position to complete the Top 3 ahead of the recovering Dai.
Summing up the opening final, Volker start, ‘I made a good start and Vening was following me pretty. He promised he would so it was good’. The German continued, ‘I’m not sure what happened behind but there was a lot of action and after that I had a few rough laps in traffic and ended up with dirty tyres. I’m sure it was the same for Vening but I’m glad to get the win.’ A much colder day today in Foshan City, on his car’s performance in A1 he said, ‘I’m happy with how the car performed today, it was as good as it was yesterday and the tyres have great grip now’ – drivers each using a single set of hand out Sweep tyres.
Pleased with opening race, Zhuo joked, ‘It was good but not good enough’. He continued, ‘I got a good start and just tried to follow Ronald in the hope that would help me pull away from 3rd place and it worked out. Ronald had good pace and I was able to follow him and still drive safe’. Planning no changes to his A800R for A2, he said maybe he would try for something in the first three corners but after that his plan is follow Volker again and finish safely content that finishing 2nd behind the professional driver would be a result he would very content with.
Starting from fourth on the grid but completing first lap down in ninth after he got pushed out of the way at the start, Nagashima was not impressed by the driving standards describing the race as ‘very dirty’. The Japanese driver explained, ‘there were many crash, they push car and don’t wait.’ Hoping for a better, cleaner, race in A2, on a positive note Nagashima said his car was ‘the best it has been’ since he topped seeding on Saturday morning. Having struggled somewhat with his set-up throughout qualifying he said a change made for A1 was a big step in the right direction and a confidence boost for the remaining two finals.