TSS Super Car GTM Race 2 review

TSS Super Car GTM Race 2 review

17.09.2016: Thailand Super Series at Bira Circuit 2016 Super Car GTM Race 2: Sunday (Race 7 of the year).

Thailand Super Series at Bira Circuit 2016
Super Car GTM Race 2: Sunday (Race 7 of the year).






The grid had a very familiar feel as Sarun parked up the menacing Lamborghini on pole position, with Kantasak’s Ferrari alongside. Then came Voravud, Aekarat, Nattapong, Pitsanu and Daniel.


At the green lights and into Turn 2 for the first time the Lamborghini held the advantage with Voravud getting a better run to slot into second ahead of Kantasak and Nattapong, the Toyota getting ahead of Aekarat, followed by Pitsanu, the two Audis of Daniel and Henk and then Suttiluck and Craig and the second Toyota of Nattavude.


Henk though had a terrible opening lap. Hit by another car from behind into Turn 2 he suffered electrical problems after that and the Audi switched into limp mode out of the S2 chicane which allowed Suttiluck and Craig to go straight up the inside of the Audi into Turn 11.


In the cockpit the Dutchman had to reset the electronics and that allowed the rest of the runners to power past the trundling #26 Audi. However that reboot did the trick and he was back in the race and immediately playing catch up. Henk would spend the rest of the race fighting his way back up the order and was eventually rewarded with sixth place for his efforts.


Behind the PRO-AM runners Paul had assumed the AM lead from pole ahead of his teammate Naputt and Saravut although on the run uphill into the S1 chicane on the next lap the two Painkiller Porsches would swap places.


On the third lap Nattapong pulled up on the outside between Turn 3 and Turn 4, his race was over and that was his second DNF of the weekend, a zero points score from the trip to Pattaya.


After his double win in Buriram Nattapong had hauled himself into second place in the Drivers’ classification and placed himself as the best of the chasers still trying to challenge Sarun for the title. However within little more than 5 km of Sunday’s race completed his title ambitions were well and truly buried.


Pitsanu elbowed his way past Aekarat as the Porsche drivers once again dueled over fourth place. The big incident that would impact the race and would lead to knock on consequences was unfolding a few turns further back as Craig and Suttiluck disputed seventh place.


The Porsche came though on the short run down from S1 to S2 but the Holden driver ended up with nowhere to go apart from onto the kerbs and straight across the gravel on the inside of the second chicane. He bounced through the trap and rejoined the track, albeit minus chunks of front bodywork.


Tosaphol had a sideways moment through 100R, bouncing the front of the Nissan sideways across the kerbs on the inside, but successfully collected the car and rejoined.


Just after one third race distance, on the eleventh lap, Nattavude slowed up with a broken steering rod and pitted. That was both Toyotas out of the running for a second day. After their clean sweep of wins at the last round it was back down to earth for the factory team with a zero score from the weekend.


Buriram’s dominance had elevated Toyota to the top of the Teams’ classification but the retirements in Bira would cost them dear as they would slide down to third spot in the standings thanks to strong points finishes for Racing Spirit PSC Motorsport and Singha Motorsport Team Thailand.


The biggest battle of Sunday’s race was between Pitsanu and Aekarat for fourth place – there was simply nothing between them as the A Motorsport driver’ piled on the pressure for lap after lap. Daniel in the #27 Audi had a ringside view as he reeled them in and eventually locked onto the tail of Aekarat.


Craig’s trip through the gravel trap had ripped away part of his front spoiler and splitter and the resulting damage saw him spring a fluid leak through 100R curve on the nineteenth lap which ended in oil spinning the car around 360-degrees into S1 and leaving him lodged on the grass on the inside of the chicane’s exit.


The big looser was Pitsanu who hit the fluid and lost grip through 100R, bouncing into the tyre barriers hard on the outside. It was a bitter blow for this driver, who is in his second year in GTM, and was only returning to the action after his Porsche had suffered extensive damage during the season opener.


On both occasions the driver was blameless. This time there was damage all down the left hand side of the car although the driver reported that the team is aiming to repair the damage in time for the season closer in Bangsaen. Daniel also had a moment on the oil and was lucky to escape unscathed.


With oil over several hundred metres of the track the red flags were swiftly waved and the race stopped. The cars pulled up in line astern on the grid to await the restart. The white Lamborghini headed the train of cars just as it had done right from the green lights at the start of the previous day.


Behind Sarun lined up the two Ferraris, Voravud and Kantasak, and then the came the Porsche of Aekarat and the two Audis of Daniel and Henk and the Porsche of Suttiluck. The AM class order meanwhile was Naputt leading Paul and Saravut.


The race was restarted and shortened with two formation laps before the green flag waved again to signal a dash for the flag. The pack made a clean start and Sarun seemed to have the race well under control as he swiftly pulled out three or four cars lengths by the time the cars streamed through Turn 3.


While Sarun disappeared into the distance and had 4.982 seconds in hand when the checkered flag waved after 27 laps, there was a five car train chasing second place:


Voravud, Kantasak, Aekarat, Daniel and Henk. Aekarat pushed the Ferrari in front very hard but wasn’t able to make a pass stick and the quintet crossed the finishline nose to tail. Three and a half seconds further back Suttiluck came home in seventh place.


In the AM class battle Naputt took his second win of the weekend to haul himself into the title fight. He started second on the AM grid but took the class lead from Paul into the S2 chicane on the second lap.


These results represented his breakthrough wins in AM after a run of one second and three third places from the opening five races. During both races he had been in command and in the final race he eased out a six second cushion after the race restarted following the red flag period.


“I'm over the moon after I finished Race 6, but very scared coming to Race 7 because it was too good to be true,” Naputt said afterward.


“So I was expecting something bad to happen and so I drove even more carefully and took little to no risk at all. I ended the weekend with a double win and [it’s the] first time in my racing career that I haven’t spun once for the entire weekend.”


Paul took second place to add to his third the day before, fending off the attentions of Saravut for almost the entire race. With the attrition rate of the race the trio of AM drivers also squeezed into the top ten finishing in eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively.


What a winner though! This was a big, big weekend when Sarun and his team came to tricky and difficult Bira Circuit with a points advantage to defend. He didn’t just sit back and collect points, which would have been the easy option on a track that has destroyed many ambitions in its history.


 Instead he took the event by the scruff of the neck, planted the Lamborghini on pole position and proceeded to win both races from the front. He fought off relentless pressure and marked himself out as a true champion.


The winner was delighted – and so he should have been. “To race in Bira circuit with supercar is quite special,” Sarun said. “Our team did a very hard job to adjust car for Bira circuit, we did testing and learnt a lot.


 To win this I have to do everything perfectly with a good car, a matched car setup and perfect driving in extremely the competitive races in Thailand Super Series. That was my best racing weekend.”


Sarun has usefully now done the heavy lifting in the Drivers’ championship ahead of November’s demanding triple-header finale in Bangsaen. He’s banged in an incredible five wins from seven races so far this year and that moves him up to 127 points.


His closest rival is Kantasak with 74 points and that means even if the Ferrari driver wins all three GTM races in Bangsaen Sarun needs to collect just 7 points to be sure of sealing the title – out of the maximum of 60 points on offer at the seaside races.


There is a big fight brewing for second place though as Kantasak (74 points), Daniel (67 points) and Nattapong (62 points) are all pretty close together in the classification. And with a triple helping of points on offer, Aekarat (47 points), Voravud (46 points), Nattavude (39 points) and Henk (36 points) will all be looking to move up the leaderboard.


In the AM class Paul has consolidated his lead with a second and third place and that puts him onto 107 points. However a maximum score of 40 points for his teammate Naputt moves him up to 91 points and within striking distance.


The title is still Paul’s to loose though – he will have to knuckle down and grind out the results in Bangsaen, a place that’s always tough to come to. Saravut moves up to 77 points thanks to his second and third places last weekend.


In the Team’s championship Sarun’s double win returns Racing Spirit PSC Motorsport to the top spot, it’s now on 135 points, after it slipped behind Toyota in the rankings following the last round in Buriram. However Singha Motorsport Team Thailand is the big winner in the Teams’ standings from the trip to Bira Circuit and it moves up to second place with 120 points.


 The Ferrari team is now only 15 points adrift of the top and fielding two front running cars versus one from Racing Spirit PSC Motorsport and that means with three points scoring races to come in Bangsaen the defending champion team is very well positioned to retain the title.


Without any points from last weekend Toyota slips to third place in the classification as it remains on 101 points, but it’s also not quite out of the running for the title although it’s an unlikely prospect, while B-Quik Racing drops one place to fourth in the classification as it has 78 points. A Motorsport, with 49 points, rounds out the top five in the Teams’ rankings.




- Edd Ellison  - also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/tss-thailand-super-series-gtm-race2---155039.html

17.09.2016 / MaP

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