n Sunday, Hangzhou-based car manufacturer Geely delivered the first-ever victory for a Chinese automaker in an FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) sanctioned World Cup of racing event.
The victory in the FIA WTCR opener on the streets of Marrakech on Sunday came with veteran Swedish driver Thed Björk at the wheel of a Lynk & Co 03. Founded in 2016, Lynk & Co is a premium Chinese-Swedish automotive brand that is owned by Geely which acquired Swedish carmaker Volvo back in 2010.
Geely’s win has been generating some buzz on Chinese social media this week, though not for the reasons that the company had been hoping for. Instead, netizens have questioned Geely for “asking” Björk to brandish a Chinese flag to celebrate the victory, noting also that the racing team includes no Chinese drivers.
Video shared by Geely on Weibo shows Björk climbing on top of the car to happily wave around the five-starred red flag:
According to state-controlled Global Times tabloid, Geely vice president Yang Xueliang responded to online criticism by stating that the flag had given to Björk by a spectator rather than Geely representatives. Meanwhile, Björk himself said that he was “delighted” to be able to wave around the Chinese flag.
The car that Björk drove to victory in Morroco is actually a souped-up version of Lynk & Co 03 developed by the Sweden-based Cyan Racing, the official motorsport partner of Geely which formerly served as Volvo’s auto racing team. It doesn’t appear as though any spectator handed Björk a large Swedish flag after the win.