Surveying the scene in Bangsaen

Surveying the scene in Bangsaen

12.08.2016: There are less than four months remaining until the Bangsaen Grand Prix 2016

There are less than four months remaining until the Bangsaen Grand Prix 2016 and the work towards achieving FIA Grade 3 homologation is relentlessly moving up the gears. The latest step in that process, a full 3D survey of the circuit, has just been completed.

The exhaustive analysis of the 3.7 km street track was conducted over 22 days by a joint Thai-Australian team that brought individual strengths to the project, not only surveying the road surfaces but all the surrounding infrastructure such as drainage channels, power cable poles, pavements and building frontages.

The sweeping survey also included the new permanent paddock aprons and the event supporting infrastructure as well as additional land that might be incorporated in the future.

As the expansive survey wound to a conclusion the Racing Spirit Track Development Team, led by TSS Vice President Preeda Tantemsapya and Track Designer Khun Simon Gardini, were in Bangsaen to assess progress.

“We’ve had a survey taking place over the last three weeks,” explained Khun Simon, “We’re into the last couple of days now, gathering full 3D information of the entire track and its surrounds, including the event areas.

He said the Track Development Team required a great depth of detail as they close in on submitting the final plans, but as ever with the Bangsaen Street Circuit project they were also looking towards the long term future and that meant shooting over and above the requirements for achieving FIA Grade 3 homologation.

Khun Simon was satisfied with the detail that had been achieved. “The surveyors have picked up every tree, every power pole, the road surface, the edges, the gutters, the houses,” he said.

“ So we have got the highest possible detail of the track and its geometry. The track in particular we need that information for our final design drawing that we will give to the FIA in a few weeks because it’s on the basis of it that the simulations are run so we can double check everything is safe and that the distances are exactly right.”

To get the best results from the survey they handpicked a team, he continued. “To undertake the survey we’ve looked for a combination of local and motorsport talent,” said Khun Simon.

“So we have a great team here. The Australian surveyors, AAM Group, have undertaken previous motorsport surveys including in Singapore for the Formula 1 track and have teamed up with a local survey company with local expertise and the guys have been working very hard over the last three weeks to gather all the information and they will take that back and produce it in a drawing for the entire circuit.”

Khun Simon’s was also pleased that the survey had run smoothly and no difficulties have cropped up. “There’s been nothing unexpected, at this stage it’s primarily data gathering,” he says.

“What we did after three days of gathering data was ask them to produce a drawing of just a small section so we could check that they were picking up everything as we need to pick up drains, and drain inverts and pits in the road, there are many small things that could be missed and that sample looked fantastic, it was exactly the sort of thing we need to achieve our targets.”

Leading the survey for AAM Group was Khun Timothy Connolly and he explained what was involved. “We are using robotic capabilities to get the most efficient data to the client as time constraints for this job are a factor,” said the Australian.

“Originally we set up a survey control using static GPS and tied it in with digital leveling which basically means that the height and the contouring is to a very high standard, to just a couple of millimetres, so it helps with the design purposes as it makes everything a lot easier.”

Factory support

Alongside the influx of new turnkey racecars into Thailand Super Series has come a flurry of dedicated engineers that know these complex machines inside out, know how to manage them and extract their potential as well as bringing local engineers up to speed.

So this year, enter SEAT. It's an unknown brand in Thailand and its cars aren't seen on the roads here. As for the racetrack it's very doubtful a SEAT branded car has ever taken to a Thai circuit before. So everything is starting at a zero sum base, except for this particular car’s ability to get its specific job done – to win races – is already well proven.

The win-proven SEAT in question is the Léon Cup Racer and it comes here to enter a brand new circuit-racing category that has only just arrived in Thailand this year, ‘TCR’. In fact ‘TCR Thailand’ is the first domestic series reserved for this new breed to spring up in Asia.

No less than six Léon Cup Racers touched down here just ahead of the start of the new season. So all in all a little bit of factory knowledge wouldn't go amiss.

The SEAT factory sent two technicians over from its base in Spain to support the four teams that were running five of the six Léons at the season opener (the sixth example would in fact debut during the second round last month).

“We are giving support to the SEAT teams as it was the first time here for these cars in Thailand and we try to get the maximum from the cars and solve any questions or problems the customers might have,” explained Khun Jose Serrano, SEAT Sport Technical Assistant, in Buriram where he was a busy fixture up and down the pitlane with laptop in hand. “We will try to teach the teams how to do some things.”

He noted that they developed this car firstly for their European ‘one make’ series and then revised it to fit TCR specifications, so they know its capabilities well. “The car was developed over [the last] few years so we know many things we can show to the teams and we have been answering many questions about the car, the setup, the suspension [and] how to do the maintenance.”

The SEAT engineers were able to hook in and download the data from each of the cars in action and after analysis to provide feedback, pointers and direction. Double victory in the first races went to the Singha Motorsport Team Thailand-entered Léon and while Khun Carlo Van Dam stamped his mark, Khun Jose, while saying driver and team had done a great job, was also clear that there was still plenty more to come from their package.

“The Singha team with Carlo Van Dam have done a good job on the setup of the car,” he said. “They have a good performance and maybe with the next races they can have more performance as they learn the car, there are many things they can improve.”

The Spanish engineer also reckoned that the SEAT Léon Cup Racer is a pretty versatile racecar and suits most tracks, including Buriram – the only specific metric they were having to factor in during the weekend was the temperatures and humidity, which were higher than in Europe where the car mostly races. “I think the car is good here,” noted Khun Jose. “But we know with this car that the cooling is closer to the limit.”

- Edd Ellison, also photo


12.08.2016 / MaP

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