TCR Thailand Race 2 Saturday at Bira Circuit

TCR Thailand Race 2 Saturday at Bira Circuit

21.09.2016: TCR Thailand Race 8 of the year Sunday’s final race saw the usual top five reverse grid and that planted

TCR Thailand  Race 8 of the year





Sunday’s final race saw the usual top five reverse grid and that planted Rattanin on pole position with Chariya alongside, the two AM class debutants occupying the front row. Behind them there was the potentially explosive menace of Carlo and Narasak while the previous day’s winner Jack started right behind them on Row 3 with Paritat alongside.



At the green lights Rattanin made a tardy start and was already down to fifth by Turn 1 as the flying trio – Carlo, Narasak and Jack – pushed up quickly. Chariya though dug in and got a great start from the outside of the front row to grab the inside line into Turn 2 as the pack braked and swung uphill.


Carlo however powered round the outside and by Turn 3 he was in the lead and as the first lap unfolded it was the closely matched top three of the previous day, but in reverse order, the red and white Singha Motorsport Team Thailand entry heading the two matte grey Vattana cars with Narasak just holding the advantage over Jack. Further back Nattachak put a move on Paritat to move into sixth place.


Carlo quickly stretched out his lead to a couple of seconds and with the gap widening Jack passed his teammate Narasak and set about trying to close the gap down – he had to push as hard as he could as the championship was at stake.


Adrift of the top trio there was a battle brewing for fourth place as Rattanin, after a tardy start, had closed up on Chariya while Nattachak, after getting past Paritat, was reeling in the pair in front and in fact Paritat was unlocking quicker race pace now and was also closing in.


Chariya dropped back and that left Rattanin to fend off Nattachak in the battle of the AM drivers. It would remain that way with the Honda eventually slipping back to finish 6 seconds off the white SEAT while Chariya claimed third place in the class as all three AM drivers made a second trip to the podium of the weekend, albeit in a different order to the previous day.


Debutant Chariya was delighted with how his weekend in the Eakie BBR Kaiten Honda had shaken out; two races in the AM class resulting in two trips to the podium and one win.


“It was really good experience for [my] first time racing in TCR,” he said afterwards. “I’m very, very happy with the result, my best lap time was better than I expected and more importantly we finished the race with no damage to the car.


I still have a lot to improve, especially driving in a left hand drive car for the first time is really challenging but I will do best to improve [my] results in future.”


At the race relentlessly moved towards the two-thirds distance mark the outcome would abruptly be decided. Carlo suddenly slowed up and dropped back behind the two Vattana cars as he suffered gearbox problems. In fact his troubles had actually started a few laps earlier, as he explained afterwards.


 “On lap 10 all the dashboard info disappeared [and] fours laps after that I lost all the gears,” said the Dutch professional driver. “After a reset I finished the race in automatic mode.” It was a bitter blow to his championship aspirations as that further eroded his shrinking advantage in the points’ classification and in fact tipped the scales very narrowly in favour of Jack when the dust had settled.


Jack needed no second invitation and he nursed his overheating car to the line while Narasak closed right up over the final laps and the gap at the line was just two tenths of a second. Jack was also suffering from transmission issues in the identical SEAT but in his case he had a little more luck as it all held together to the finish.


The same result as the day before – but two wins for Jack and two third places for Carlo had turned the championship on its head.


Jack was delighted with how his weekend panned out. “WestCoast did an amazing setup for qualifying which for Bira is very important,” he said. “The [SEAT Léon Model Year] 2015 is quite hard to drive because it’s so warm in Thailand [but] it’s so much fun to race with.


I had a good race with Carlo Van Dam he is a true pro driver, big respect to him and I’m looking forward to race in Bangsaen. The reason I was a bit slower than my teammate Narasak was because my car went into ‘safe mode’ so it only had 70% power sometimes but I still pulled out two wins out of two.”


The two Vattana cars came home nose to tail and Narasak was happy with the weekend as well. “I’m still learning [and I] need more consistency from myself. The car is beautiful, it’s powerful but sensitive and the engineering [by the team] was great. The most important thing to do [now] is more setting work and attacking without mistakes.”


The PRO-AM Drivers’ championship now rests on a knife-edge. With two wins at Bira compared to two third places for Carlo, Jack ripped 20 points out of his rival and thus edges into the classification lead by just 3 points. It’s 126 to 123 points respectively and Bangsaen is going to be a fight to the death for the first ever TCR Thailand title.


Narasak moves up to 97 points and mathematically he’s not quite out of the race yet, but it would require a huge upset for him to be able to sneak away with the title. Paritat meanwhile climbs to fourth place with 82 points. In the AM class Chen Jian Hong is on 150 points with Nattachak on 130 points.

 

 

- Edd Ellison - also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/tcr-thailand-race-2-saturday-bira-circuit---155331.html

21.09.2016 / MaP

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