TCR Thailand at Buriram - races 5 and 6

TCR Thailand at Buriram - races 5 and 6

04.09.2016: TCR Thailand held its third round of the year as part of TCR International

TCR Thailand held its third round of the year as part of TCR International Series’ visit to Buriram – it really doesn’t get any better than that, killing two birds with one stone as not only were the Thai drivers disputing our domestic championship but they were also on track with the best drivers in the TCR world.

 And it was the same story with the teams as they went up against the best global touring car teams such as WestCoast Racing, Craft-Bamboo and Team Engstler.

The concept behind TCR is to allow drivers and teams to compete on a level playing field and pit themselves against the best – and make a name for themselves.

The TCR Thailand drivers’ really strutted their stuff in Buriram as they joined the TCR International Series grid and no one looked out of their depth – but while they were measuring themselves up against the global stars, of more importance to most drivers were championship points as PRO-AM and AM titles are at stake as the series moved across the halfway line.

Especially so as the TCR Thailand PRO-AM classification leader, Carlo Van Dam, was absent from the weekend.

In fact some of the biggest point scorers in Buriram were drivers that have joined TCR Thailand season part way and that means the gaps in the classification are closing up nicely and the PRO-AM title fight is still open.

The undisputed star of the weekend was Kantadhee Kusiri who joined the series in a Team Eakie BBR entered Honda Civic and he promptly won both races (see separate story). It really was job well done by the youngster, but in his wake there were also some terrific performances.

In Race 1 the runners up spot in TCR Thailand went to Vattana Motorsport’s Narasak Ittiritpong who came into the event having won on his debut at the last round held back in July. He also almost cracked the TCR International Series overall top-ten, finishing in a strong P11, a noteworthy performance from a driver that’s coming back into top form.

He finished more than twelve seconds clear of Alexander Mies in the highest placed of the trio of Krating Daeng SEAT entries, the young German driver rounding out the TCR Thailand PRO-AM podium.

Fourth place in TCR Thailand was collected by Alexander’s teammate Chen Jian Hong and he also nabbed the AM class victory; he’s made it a clean sweep of wins so far this year and this was his fifth victory in five races.

The Taiwanese driver was only three tenths of a second ahead of Nattachak Hanjitkasem in the TBN MK IHere Honda Civic and this driver is proving one of the revelations of the season so far – that was his fourth straight runners up spot.

Sixth in TCR Thailand came Paritat Bulbon in the Sloth Racing SEAT ahead of Grant Supaphong in the third Krating Daeng SEAT. Finally Jack Lemvard came home 1 lap down in Vattana’s SEAT but wasn’t classified, he had had pitted on the first lap of the race after suffering contact damage and that left him trailing the field.

In Race 2 Kantadhee once again flew the flag for Thailand as he romped into the distance to win again collect maximum points. This time Alexander collected the runners up spot to add to his third place and help him close onto the tail end of the championship classification as he also started the season late.

Grant made it two Krating Daeng cars on the PRO-AM podium with a good run to be classified in third place, picking up the final step on the rostrum after Jack was handed a time penalty.

Fourth went to his teammate Chen who once again won the AM class to make it six wins out of six races for the season so far and virtually assure himself of the title, it’s really just down to mathematics now for that title.

Then came Jack in the second Vattana entry. He started from the back and battled his way up into the TCR Thailand podium positions (and thirteenth place overall) before being landed with a 30 second penalty for a yellow flag infringement and that dropped him down from third to fifth place. Seventh went to Narasak while Nattachak retired after 6 laps.

In the PRO-AM championship standings Carlo, after missing this round, sees his advantage at the top whittled down to 12 points with Grant, thanks to collecting 25 points, moving into second place, albeit 2 points ahead of Jack, who had a very mixed weekend and drops down to third.

Despite missing the first race Narasak (61 points) has collected scores in all four of the last races and that tips him 3 points ahead of Paritat (58 points). Then come two more late starters to the season, Kantadhee (50 points) is next thanks to his maximum score from the weekend with Alexander (48 points) just behind him.

In AM it’s pretty much a formality as Chen has 150 points thanks to his six straight wins with Nattachak next up on 87 points so the Krating Daeng driver needs just 16 more points to wrap up the AM title.

- Edd Ellison - also photo


04.09.2016 / MaP

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