Thailand Super Series Buriram: Super 2000 2017 Race 1 & 2 review

Thailand Super Series Buriram: Super 2000 2017 Race 1 & 2 review

28.05.2017: Super 2000’s man of the moment Pattarapol Vongprai lined up the Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic FD on pole with the striking aero-enhanced ‘FD

Super 2000’s man of the moment Pattarapol Vongprai lined up the Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic FD on pole with the striking aero-enhanced ‘FD’ of Munkong Sathienthirakul next to him. Rudolf Yu (Civic FD) and Ekprawat Petcharak (Civic FB) were next up and then came Naoki Kawamura who was making his debut in a Toyota Team Thailand entered 86, the Japanese driver the latest recipient of a Super 2000 drive thanks to winning the previous season’s Toyota Altis One Make Race championship – although he is the first of the champions to get his hands on the 86 sportscar for his ‘prize drive’, rather than a ‘B spec’ Altis.



At the green lights Munkong got the power down and surged for Turn 1 to lead the pack downhill with Pattarapol tucking in behind. However, the pole sitter would have an untidy first lap culminating in overshooting the final turn and dropping down the order behind Ekprawat, Naoki and Kittitat Vongprai – the 21-year-old brother of touring car racing’s latest find, Pattarapol – as well as several of the front running Touring Car Thailand machines.



As the race moved through the first few laps the battle was Naoki moving up with Kittitat on his tail while in the fight for sixth Wijak Lertprasertpakorn was fending off Rudolf Yu although the positions would swap around after three laps.



Ekprawat, in the unique Civic FB, had been looking right on the pace but he suffered a loosening waterpump belt and that caused the car to overheat. He had to pit to have the problem fixed and that dropping him away from the overall running order.




Naoki versus Kittitat was an enthralling dice and on the fourth lap the grey and black Vattana Civic FD nipped ahead through Turn 4 but the red and white factory Toyota 86 responded and made its move out of Turn 11 to get the repass done through the final turn.




It was however a momentary change of place as Kittitat powered back past as they went down the start-finish straight in the shadow of the grandstand and he led the pair into Turn 1. Naoki responded by getting a drag down to Turn 3 and reclaiming the place which he then successfully clung onto as they went uphill side-by-side and through the first esses. That would end their battle as Naoki now started to edge away.



At the end of the sixth lap Munkong, who was beginning to come under pressure from Pattarapol, headed for the pitlane with plumes coming from the rear of his car. That left Pattarapol with the lead – and a pretty routine run to the flag over the second half of the race to start his year off with a win. He also took the Class B win.



Naoki eventually drew more than 11 seconds ahead of Kittitat as they took second and third places respectively and a similar position in Class B while Rudolf closed down the deficit to Kittitat to less than a second although he wasn’t able to get a pass sorted. Wijak was a long way adrift of Rudolf although he claimed the final podium step in Class B.



Then came the struggling Class A runners, Munkong and Ekprawat, both returning to the race a lap down after their mechanics fixed their respective problems and both made the chequered flag and were classified.



Thanks to the top order reverse grid, Race 2 saw Kittitat on pole, the best front row slot coming on his debut weekend in Super 2000 and just his second race. Next up was Naoki and Kittitat’s younger brother, Pattarapol.



At the green lights Kittitat kept the lead but Pattarapol was quickly on the move and past Naoki out of Turn 1 and into P2. As the pack surged down the hill to Turn 3 it was the two young brothers in the two black and grey Vattana Civics out front and on the run uphill to Turn 4 the mirror image cars swapped places. Kittitat’s race would take a turn for the worse though as he slowed to a halt on the start finish straight with a driveshaft failure just as the cars entered lap 2 and that put Munkong into second with Naoki next and Ekprawat moving up to fourth.



On lap 4 Munkong, who had closed down the race leader, put a pass on him into Turn 3. It would stay that way until the tenth lap when Munkong suffered a right hand front tyre deflation and he would trundle into the pits, for a second day in a row his shot at winning had evaporated.



That promoted Ekprawat to second place and he started to haul in the race leader. That was it though in terms of P1 action although the gap was just 2 seconds at the chequered flag. Race winner Pattarapol also claimed Class B victory while Ekprawat won Class A. Naoki and Rudolf were third and fourth, as well as second and third in Class B while Munkong returned to the race to finish fifth and unlapped; however, he also had a 10-second penalty added to his time due to a pitlane speeding infringement.



After announcing himself to the Super 2000 paddock at the Bira Circuit round last September, Pattarapol endured a slightly rocky Bangsaen in February. But he got his new season off to the best possible start with two wins out of two in the North East. He looked smooth and capable while the car didn’t miss a beat – that’s title winning form – but now he must conquer Bangsaen in July and haul in two high points scores.





- Edd Ellison-  photos TSS

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28.05.2017 / MaP

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