TSS Buriram Saturday - Super 2000 Race 1

TSS Buriram Saturday - Super 2000 Race 1

09.06.2016: Thailand Super Series (TSS) at Buriram Saturday race As the Super 2000 grid bathed in the sunshine of a Saturday

Thailand Super Series (TSS) at Buriram
Saturday race

As the Super 2000 grid bathed in the sunshine of a Saturday afternoon in Buriram, on pole was hotshot driver Khun Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya. During qualifying he’d planted the #25 Singha Motorsport Team Thailand Honda Civic FD at the top of the timesheets early on and had stayed there as the 30-minute session ticked away.

 No one got close to him and the double Super 2000 winner in Bangsaen last November looked determined to continue his winning run.

Alongside Khun Kittipol on the front row lined up Khun Chayut Yangpichit while right behind them was Toyota factory driver Khun Manat Kulapalanont, who is back in Super 2000 after a year away in Super Car GTM, and the Honda City of Khun Phatwit Phayakcso.

Khun Thanavud Bhirombhakdi led out the third row but there was a vacant space alongside him on the grid, that was vacated by Khun Thanakorn Buttawong in the first of the two factory run Toyota Altis entries who would make a late race start. Khun Thanakorn has been promoted to this seat as a prize for winning the Toyota Altis One Make Race championship last year.

The fourth row meanwhile was the preserve of Khun Pure Hongsapan, in the other factory Altis, and Khun Ekprawat Petcharak in the unique Civic FB who was starting his second season in Super 2000. Right at the back were two top runners – Khun Rudolf Yu and Khun Munkong Sathienthirakul – and they would be expected to move up the order fast.

 The former had qualified in seventh place the previous day but was moved to the back of the grid as he required overnight repairs to his Civic’s gearbox while the latter would have started on the second row but he also had technical issues to resolve.

At the green lights Khun Kittipol led them away perfectly and Khun Chayut quickly tucked in behind but already Khun Manat was in trouble, he suffered transmission failure as he pulled off from his starting slot.

He was immediately swallowed up by the pack and his participation in the race was over. Into Turn 1 and Khun Phatwit took full advantage of the slow moving Toyota to move into P3 while a great start by Khun Ekprawat saw him dive down the inside and he went into Turn 1 side by side with Khun Thanavud. Then it was Khun Pure and the yellow Toyota Altezza of Khun David Yupensak side by side.

Khun Kittipol, who was however struggling with an unwieldy car as his power steering had failed on the grid, and Khun Chayut had already pulled out a couple of car lengths as the pack swept round Turn 3, with Khun Ekprawat in fine form and getting the jump on Khun Phatwit to move into third place as they powered back up the hill for the first time.

Khun David though ran wide at the hairpin and lost places. As the cars swept through the middle esses Khun Chayut was piling the pressure on Khun Kittipol with Khun Ekprawat in plenty of space in third as Khun Phatwit had fallen back into the clutches of Khun Thanavud.

Then it was Khun Munkong, who was making a blistering pace up from the back of the grid, Khun Pure and Khun Rudolf, who was busy clawing back lost ground. At the end of the first lap Khun Manat trundled into the pits and retired.

Into the second lap and Khun Munkong pulled himself right into the middle of the battle for P4 as he passed Khun Thanavud on the run downhill to the hairpin, but Khun Thanavud held onto the racing line grabbed the place back within a few turns and now Khun Rudolf was locking on the back of this trio.

As the pack came down to the main straight Khun Thanavud tried to outdrag Khun Phatwit to Turn 1 but the City driver kept the lead and instead Khun Munkong saw an open door and moved back up to fourth again, this time he would keep his momentum going and he did the job on Khun Phatwit down to the hairpin with Khun Rudolf also seeing the gaps and diving inside Khun Thanavud and into sixth place.

Neither however lasted long as being off the racing line Khun Phatwit regained fourth on the long run back up to Turn 4 while Khun Thanavud edged Khun Rudolf out of fifth. It was gripping stuff – and exactly what Super 2000 dishes out year in year out.

Four cars nose to tail for fourth place using every inch of the road and in fact kicking up puffs of dust as they strayed off the circuit’s smooth asphalt. Khun Thanavud squeezed past Khun Munkong into the last turn but immediately they switched back places along the main straight.

On the third lap Khun Artit Masathirakul’s Civic FD had an engine problem and stopped on the track while Khun Pure tripped on the oil left behind and had an off track moment.

Meanwhile a few hundred metres ahead of that incident, Khun Rudolf once again got back past Khun Thanavud on the run down to the hairpin.

Driving like a superman – and putting all of his off season marathon running to good use – Khun Kittipol was digging really deep, pumping his arms and fending off Khun Chayut, which he did successfully until the Safety Car was deployed so the track workers could remove Khun Artit’s car.

As they slowed down to form up behind the Safety Car it was Khun Kittipol from Khun Chayut, Khun Ekprawat, Khun Phatwit, Khun Thanavud, Khun Rudolf, Khun Munkong, who detoured off the track slightly to avoid Khun Artit’s accident and thus lost a couple of places, the Altezza of Khun David and the sole surviving Altis of Khun Thanakorn.

The Safety Car period had given Khun Kittipol some breathing space and he controlled the pack away when the race went back to green flag conditions with Khun Chayut again in second place.

However a slow start for Khun Ekprawat had Khun Phatwit, Khun Thanavud and Khun Rudolf tight on his tail as they surged into Turn 1.

At Turn 5 Khun Phatwit and Khun Thanavud tripped over each other as the latter got on the brakes too late and the Civic FD clunked the City and that allowed Khun Rudolf and Khun Munkong to get past while Khun Thanavud recovered quicker to jump Khun Phatwit. A little further back and Khun David and Khun Thanakorn traded places.

There would be running order changes that lap as Khun Thanavud had in fact sustained damage the front right corner of his car during that contact with Khun Phatwit at Turn 5 and he came sailing into the pits at the end of the lap to retire while in the fight for P1 Khun Chayut finally found a way past Khun Kittipol, getting on the power round the outside of his rival in the sweep through Turn 10 and clattering over the kerbs as they shot uphill into Turn 11 but holding his nerve and grabbing the racing line for the final corner as Khun Kittipol tripped on a slippery patch and ran wide.

There were immediately more changes amongst the leading trio as Khun Ekprawat retired with mechanical problems and that elevated Khun Rudolf into third place.

Khun Kittipol is a real street fighter though and he didn’t give up his ambitions on first place despite his lack of power steering and over the last few laps he hassled the red and white DC 5 in front and almost regained the place, getting his car side by side with the leader at one point and dipping his wheels on the grass at another.

The gap at the finishline was just two tenths of a second to Khun Chayut who used all of his great experience to keep P1 covered.

There was some great driving on show by these two experienced touring car stars, good, clean, bumper-to-bumper action that’s the foundation stone of Super 2000.

Ever the showman, on the slowing down lap as these two gladiators came round side by side Khun Kittipol reach out and folded in Khun Chayut’s door mirror.

In truth Khun Kittipol would have been pleased to pick up the points for second place and for this driver, who clearly wants to win the title and is the favourite to get the job done, it was a very decent result for a race where he was in ‘damage limitation’ mode.

“I drove onto the grid, no problem,” the runner up explained afterwards. “When the 1 minute sign came on, I started the engine and there was no power steering!

It [had also] happened in Free Practice but the issue solved itself and we couldn't find any faults. So I had to race with a very heavy steering!

“I managed to put some space between [Khun Chayut] but then the Safety Car came out,” Khun Kittipol continued. “At the restart, my arms were getting tired, especially around the back half of the circuit.

Then I slipped on the spilt oil and went wide, that's when [Khun Chayut] got up on the inside into last turn. I tried to get him back on the straights but he defended very well. It was a very exciting and fair fight until the end, we left each other just enough room.”

Thirteen seconds back and Khun Rudolf was the winner of the multi-car race-long battle for third place, he was a full seven seconds clear of Khun Phatwit in the end while in fifth place – and thus successfully nabbing pole for the next day’s final race – was Khun David.

In sixth came the Altis of Khun Thanakorn, he won Class 2 on his Super 2000 debut, while in seventh place Khun Munkong limped home to grab some vital championship points.

- Edd Ellison - also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/tss-buriram-saturday-super-2000-race1---150332.html

09.06.2016 / MaP

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