Thailand Super Series - Buriram Super Car GTM Race 2

Thailand Super Series - Buriram Super Car GTM Race 2

25.05.2016: Super Car GTM Race 2 (Saturday 21 May) After GTM’s first race had been squeezed in late on Friday

Super Car GTM Race 2 (Saturday 21 May)

After GTM’s first race had been squeezed in late on Friday afternoon it was onto the main programme of the weekend with Race 2 coming up on a hot and dry Saturday afternoon, although the closeness of the air and looming clouds implied that rain would arrive at some point.

The big beasts rolled out of their garages to line up for Race 2 and the top five on the grid was an exact carbon copy of the previous day with the Lamborghini of Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul again on pole, the Audi of Khun Daniel Bilski hunched up alongside, his B-Quik racing teammate Khun Henk J. Kiks next up and the Toyota of Khun Nattavude Charoensukhawatana completing Row 2.

Khun Kantasak Kusiri in the quicker of the two Singha Motorsport Team Thailand Ferraris rounded out the top five.

On the formation lap one of the GTC cars, which were sharing the track with GTM for this year, pulled up abruptly and that caused an immediate red flag and the field formed back up on the grid as stricken car was winched onto a recovery truck.

At the second attempt the cars took the green lights but hardly had they accelerated down towards Turn 1 there were multiple contacts right in the middle of the pack with several cars hitting the wall.

That resulted in the immediate departure from the race of Khun Voravud Bhirombhakdi’s Ferrari and the Porsches of Khun Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem and Khun Pinet Piyaoui, all with damage and they requiring lifting away which saw the race immediately red flagged and the cars pulling up on the grid for the second time in just a few minutes.

After a delay to clear the track the surviving cars came around again to take the start with the race distance reduced to 13 laps now.

This time the start was perfect and it was a very similar story to the first race as Khun Sarun led the snarling pack into Turn 1 while Khun Henk and his teammate Khun Daniel both got slightly tardy getaways and Khun Nattavude needed no invitation to muscle his was through and into P2 and straightaway on the downhill dash to Turn 3 the Toyota was all over the back of the Lamborghini.

Further back Khun Craig was up into fifth place after a strong start.

As the white #55 Lamborghini came round to complete the first racing lap a few car lengths behind him was Khun Nattavude, who, just like the first race, already appeared to be managing his brakes, then Khun Daniel who had a bit of daylight between himself and his teammate, while the Dutchman had also pulled out more than a second on Khun Craig.

Behind the big green Holden came Khun Kantasak in the surviving Ferrari and Khun Aekarat Discharoen in the #11 Porsche 991 GT3 Cup who rounded out the top-seven and was swarming all over the back of the Ferrari in front.

Into lap 2 and Khun Daniel had closed up on Khun Nattavude as a battle for second place emerged while Khun Kantasak closed in on Khun Craig but he still had Khun Aekarat on his tail so it was shaping up into a three-car battle for fifth place.

That soon reordered itself as Khun Aekarat jumped Khun Kantasak and instead took his turn trying to find a way past the Holden, which, just like the day before’s race, had shown great pace at the start but then struggled to keep up with the leaders.

By the time the cars finished going round the track for the third time Khun Nattavude had whittled the gap to Khun Sarun down to 0.6 seconds, Khun Daniel was another 0.6 seconds further back and Khun Henk had also closed the deficit to his teammate to 0.6 seconds as the battle for P1 involved four cars.

The fight for clear air at the front was exclusive to this quartet too; they had pulled almost 10 seconds away from Khun Craig as they set a ferocious pace.

The three-car battle for fifth place split up as Khun Kantasak swung into the pits at the end of the third lap and Khun Craig had broken the attentions of Khun Aekarat and pulled out an advantage of a few car lengths.

 Meanwhile in the AM class Khun Naputt Assakul had freed himself at the front and hauled out a five second advantage while Khun Saravut Sereethoranakul and Khun Paul Kanjanapas were squabbling over second place and were covered by just tenths.

Into lap 5 and the top four were still nose to tail, covered by just 1.8 seconds, but Khun Sarun, despite managing the extra ‘success ballast’ seemed to be in control, keeping the gap to Khun Nattavude reasonably steady at three to four car lengths, while Khun Henk was pressuring Daniel for third place and Khun Craig was now 16 seconds back down the road as he was dropping several seconds a lap to the front running pace.

The AM class meanwhile turned on its head as Khun Naputt spun off the track and that put Khun Saravut into the lead – on his Super Car race debut.

By lap 6 as the shortened race approached half distance Khun Sarun eked out a few more tenths over the chasing Toyota as he eased to a 1.2 second lead.

The two ‘bumblebees’ started to devote their attention to each other in the battle for P3 and that meant Khun Nattavude was able to stop looking so closely in his mirrors and instead focus on not letting the Lamborghini in front get away.

Meanwhile Khun Craig continued to drop away, he was now 19 seconds off the top four, but was still keeping Aekarat behind him.

Over the next few laps the top four continued to keep each other company and as the race approached two thirds distance, on lap 9, Khun Nattavude had the gap to the back of the Lamborghini down to 0.7 seconds, although the Toyota driver was still having braking problems and, mindful that they caused him to retire in the first race, he was carefully managing the car.

The Audis were tussling with each other again and Khun Henk got a great slingshot out of the hairpin, took a good look at his teammate on the run up to Turn 4 but wasn’t able to make a pass stick, it’s a corner where it’s always possible to muscle into contention but difficult to get the line to make a pass work.

Lap 10 and Khun Naputt had another spin – he was quite comfortably winning the battle for the most spins in GTM during the weekend!

By now the GTM cars were busy lapping the GTC cars (which were sharing the track in this race) but no one was able to take any advantage of the traffic to pull off passing moves.

Into lap 11 and Khun Daniel finally got a great run and powered past Khun Nattavude into second place but the Toyota driver didn’t give up his track position easily, even if he had an imperfect car, and the red and white Toyota reclaimed the place back up into Turn 4.

The Australian was having nothing of it though; he was really on fire and hustled the #27 Audi down the inside to claim the position as the cars raced through the back section.

While these two were scrapping hard for second place, Khun Henk had dropped a second back, but then a lap later, the twelfth time around, the Dutchman closed right up, it was now a red and white Toyota tightly squeezed into the middle of a black and yellow bumblebee sandwich.

As the front runners continued with their blistering pace, Khun Craig was now 27 seconds back down the road and but had pulled out half a dozen car lengths on Khun Aekarat, so the battle for the final podium step seemed to have been settled down, while in front of the three car battle for second place Khun Sarun was taking full advantage of their squabbling to ease out his lead to just a few tenths short of the two second mark.

Into the final lap and Khun Henk made a last ditch attempt to grab third as the B-Quik cars were now showing the pace of the race; it was side by side between the #26 Audi and the #9 Toyota, they traded paint into Turn 4, the two cars bouncing as they made contact, but the Toyota kept the door shut and that was it for the afternoon as Khun Nattavude eased across the line with four tenths of a second in hand over Khun Henk. Thrilling stuff.

Almost half a minute down the road came Khun Craig to nail the final step of the podium while four seconds further back Khun Aekarat wrapped up the top six.

Khun Kantasak, after his visit to the pitlane, came seventh before the AM class runners made their mark – and there was history in the making as Khun Saravut claimed the victory on his Super Car debut and it didn’t stop there as, with his brother winning the race overall, it was a family lock out of the top steps of the podium, another ‘first’ for TSS and another first also for Super Car.

An excellent drive, Khun Saravut capitalised as the Painkiller Racing duo, Khun Paul and Khun Naputt, scrapped with each other.

Khun Paul also drove an excellent race, he kept it steady when it all became a bit fraught and nabbed his second consecutive runners up spot of the weekend, it could so easily have been victory too.

That moved him into the provisional lead of the inaugural AM championship overnight – with still one race to go.

Khun Naputt however recovered from his spins after holding a very comfortable AM class lead early on to claim the third step of the podium and collect points.

Khun Pinet, who had won the class the day before suffered cruel luck when he was caught up in the startline incident and, through no fault of his own, his weekend was over and he would be scoring no more points.

- Edd Ellison - also photos


25.05.2016 / MaP

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