A tale of two (new) cars

A tale of two (new) cars

04.07.2016: Most racing drivers hope for a new state-of-the-art racecar at the start of the new




Most racing drivers hope for a new state-of-the-art racecar at the start of the new season. Some get an exciting new machine, most don’t. Very few get two new cars, never mind that they’re cutting edge machines that usher in new standards.


One driver though has two new cars this year – and that’s Vattana Motorsport’s Khun Narasak Ittritpong. That’s because the team has acquired a KTM X-Bow GT4 for Super Car GTC and a Honda Civic TCR to race in TCR Thailand.


 Two very different racecars, but both have caused a stir in the TSS paddock this year and – crucially – they both certainly seem to be the ones to have.
 

The KTM X-Bow GT4 arrived in Thailand just in time for May’s season opener in Buriram and the futuristic looking racecar had a perfect start as Khun Narasak won Race 1 comfortably, running out front from the green lights to the checkered flag.


The car, which has already set a new benchmark in European GT4 racing, is built by Reiter Engineering in partnership with KTM – so it was logical that Vattana Motorsport, as the Reiter agent here, brought the car over.


Striking to look at, especially with its front hinging one-piece glasshouse, the KTM feels something akin to a ‘mini LMP’ car – and Khun Narasak reckons that dynamically it’s just as impressive as its carbon fibre visuals.


“The KTM is the most fantastic car I have ever driven,” he says. “Because it not only looks like a cartoon or a batman car but the feeling of the car is very impressive because the traction is much more on every corner, I’ve never seen that before, it seems like a go-kart but much more than a go-kart.”
 

Because the raw power is held back by a restrictive BoP required to allow it to compete in GT4, which is further optimised as required to adhere to Super Car GTC, that means the available power must be used to perfection in conjunction with its characteristics of light weight and superb handling.


“The first thing you have to do before you race the KTM is you need much more training about its power, the power controls the KTM, if you don’t have the power right you can’t control the KTM,” Khun Narasak emphasises.
 

“The KTM has much decreased power because of the BoP regulations, so the speed is lower, the acceleration is lower and the power is lower,” he adds.


“But it’s not so important to me as I use everything from the corner, the corner is the most important thing for the KTM, good handling and good cornering are the most important things for this car.


Cornering is the key then. “We have a lot of time on the straight as we put in 170 kg for the BoP,” he adds with a laugh.


 Khun Narasak also reckons that the latter half of the season will better suit the KTM. “I’m sure the car is very fast, especially at Bangsaen.”
 



The car enjoyed a ‘textbook’ debut with an untroubled victory in the opening race. “I’m very happy, I’m happy with every lap, every time, I just waited for the win flag,” said Khun Narasak afterwards.


Race 2 didn’t go so well though and despite being in the thick of the front running action again, multiple deployments of the Safety Car caught him out and a resulting time penalty dropped him off the podium.


However Khun Narasak collected vital championship points and that leaves him well positioned, just six points off the provisional classification leader after the first round.


Clearly the combination of Khun Narasak, the KTM and Vattana Motorsport is a potent one and they have their combined eyes focused on winning the championship.


It wasn’t just a KTM that was a new racetrack ‘toy’ this year either as Khun Narasak now has a Honda Civic TCR to race in TCR Thailand, the newest championship on the TSS programme which has grabbed much attention this year.


Vattana’s new Civic didn’t quite arrive in time for the TCR Thailand season opener but it did land in time for him to join the TCR Asia Series race at Buriram last month.


That gave Khun Narasak and his engineers useful track time to better understand the car before TCR Thailand resumes this week.


Built by JAS Motorsport in Italy, the Civic TCR represents the ‘next generation’ of racing touring cars. “The TCR car is very nice and has very good handling,” says Khun Narasak.


 “I think the car is the same as the touring car but [has] better power and better aerodynamics and lighter.


The visit of TCR Asia Series gave the team a great opportunity to get to grips with the Civic, with support from West Coast Racing engineers in the garage.


“We have to change the style to the front wheel drive with turbo, that is complicated for us, for the first runs,” says Khun Narasak.


“I have not [had] much time to drive this car, but our times are getting better and better, if we have more time the car will be very fast.”


Indeed in the first race, pitted against some of the best touring car drivers in Asia, Khun Narasak grabbed the final step of the podium after a strong drive to third place.


Expect more pace to be unlocked by this car-driver combination next week in Buriram when TCR Thailand resumes.
 




- Edd Ellison also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/tss-tale-two-new-cars-honda-ktm-x-bow---151656.html

04.07.2016 / MaP

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