Bangsaen GP: Super Car GTM Plus Race 1 (Race 3 of the year)

Bangsaen GP: Super Car GTM Plus Race 1 (Race 3 of the year)

05.07.2017: Super Car GTM Plus Race 1 (Race 3 of the year) On a warm and dry Friday afternoon the big beasts of Super

Super Car GTM Plus Race 1 (Race 3 of the year)



On a warm and dry Friday afternoon the big beasts of Super Car GTM Plus lined up on the grid with Narasak Ittritpong assuming the head of the pack, the Vattana Motorsport driver’s fastest qualifying lap the previous lunchtime having conferred on him the record as the “fastest man to have ever lapped Bangsaen”.



Next to him was the Ferrari 458 GT3 of Voravud Bhirombhakdi, the 2014 Super Car GTM champion, who always raises his game an extra here, goes very fast here and for the last three editions has led the ‘home’ chase of professional driver Darryl O’Young who had won the last eight Super Car GTM races in a row but was absent this time leaving honours wide open.



Voravud’s qualifying had been compromised by damage to the rear of the car which meant he was without a diffuser for his flyers and his engineer Gianluca Soli believed he could have been on pole so there was a point for the driver to prove.



The reigning champion Sarun Sereethoranakul was next up to lead out Row 2 but the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo driver was coming off the back of an uncharacteristically quiet qualifying session and was a little off the pace of the top two with ground to make up.



Then came the gaggle of B-Quik Audis with Daniel Bilski the fastest and they had the big muscular #28 Camaro GT3 of Chonsawat Asavahame mixed in with them, the Vattana Motorsport driver starting his first race in the car, which has been a previous winner on these streets in the hands of Tomas Enge.




However, Chonsawat has only a few laps of Sepang Circuit three years ago in the cockpit of this car to his name before he stepped into it when Wednesday’s practice sessions kicked off the week so he was still taking a bit of time to get up to speed.



At the green lights there weren’t too many surprises in store as Narasak converted pole into the race lead and led the pack through Turn 2 and up the hill for the first time with Voravud and Sarun tucking in behind the Vattana Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2. Daniel capably fended off the big grunt of the Camaro as these two were next through and then it was Henk J. Kiks, resisting a dive up the inside by teammate Shaun Varney, and finally the second PSC Motorsport Huracán of Saravut Sereethoranakul wrapped up the GTM Plus runners.



Over the first lap Chonsawat was glued to the back of Daniel’s Audi in the battle for fourth while a few car lengths ahead Sarun was on Voravud’s tail in the fight for P2 and they trotted single file through the mountain section for the second time it was Narasak out front from Voravud, Sarun, Daniel, Chonsawat, Henk, Shaun and Saravut.



As they headed into the third lap the gaps started opening out at the front with Narasak pulling a good second out over Voravud and a similar gap opening up behind the Ferrari back to Sarun with fourth placed Daniel starting to drop off the top trio, the Australian was now about three seconds adrift of the Huracán in front.



The race started to settle down and at the halfway point it was Narasak at the front, Voravud always keeping the gap to around two seconds but unable to get on terms and with Sarun a similar gap behind. Daniel in fourth was steadily dropping away while the main focus was on the battle for fifth as Chonsawat in the powerful Camaro kept the #26 Audi of Henk relentlessly at bay, the Dutchman was able to follow the big American car but unable to get close enough to try putting a pass together.



Then bang on the halfway mark the race thoroughly shook up as Sarun overcooked it through Turn 17, the fearsomely fast left hand kink down the beachfront. The back end of the Lamborghini stepped out and the car went round.




Usually in this very high speed and narrow section that sort of incident can end up with a team heading home to look for a new shell, but Sarun, perhaps putting all the skills he learnt during his previous career in drift racing to good use, ended up with the tail of the Lamborghini just kissing the barriers 50 metres after the turn but with no visible signs of damage. He was out of the race but had lived to fight another day – 24 hours later to be exact as he would be on the grid for Saturday’s second of three races.



Sarun hooked the car up and got away but while he was beached across the track Daniel in fourth and then Chonsawat and Henk, still locked in a battle for fifth and sixth, were slowed up and with the GTM class leaders bottled up behind them suddenly there was a plethora of heavily braking cars that then quickly scrabbled to take advantage of this gift of a situation that had broken up track positions that had remained almost unchanged since the start of the race.



Daniel, Chonsawat and Henk all passed Sarun, who immediately headed for Pit In, just a few hundred metres further on, while the gaggle of GTM Plus and GTM cars were bustling everywhere as this pack swung round the S2 Bangsaen Hotel hairpin and exploded onto the main straight and a swapping of positions saw Henk taking advantage of an unsighted Chonsawat to finally swap places, and now, with Sarun gone, this had become a battle for fourth and fifth.



The destiny of the win would be defined with eight laps to go as the race leader, Narasak, who was comfortably romping away, sensationally powered up to Turn 2 with tyre smoke appearing at the back of the car and slipping on his own oil he overshot the turn and as the chasers passed by he had to swing the car around and get away again.




 However, with smoke and flames billowing from the right hand rear of the Lamborghini as bodywork and oil lines started to catch fire he stopped on the approach to Turn 5 and was out.



That brought out the first red flag of the race and as the survivors formed up it was Voravud now leading the race from Daniel, Henk, Chonsawat and Saravut. It took a few laps to remove the Lamborghini and clean up the track and with just four laps to go the race went back to green for a final dash with Voravud cleanly away into the lead, Daniel in second place but split from sight of the leading Ferrari by several of the GTM class cars.



There were no place changes at the restart and as the came round again and with only three laps to go Chonsawat was getting really bottled up behind one of the lapped GTM Am cars and unable to pass and that had allowed Henk to already pull out a cushion over the Camaro over the first green flag restart lap that the Audi was able to put out of the picture any potential pressure from behind him.



Chonsawat finally jumped that Ferrari at the Laem Taen Cape left hander but as he came across another GTM Am class Ferrari on the run out of Turn 17 he clipped the back, and the Camaro sported some light bodywork damage as a result although he was able to get clear of that car into Turn 18.



With 2 laps to go there was a melee at Turn 2 as the GTM class Holden Commodore of Craig Corliss was tapped and spun round and Saravut and Shaun were both caught up and had to stop as did a GTM Am Ferrari. That brought out the safety Car and the race with less than two laps remaining trundled round to finish under red flags.



Finally, after three years of continually harrying Darryl O’Young here, Voravud had bagged his win in Super Car on these streets and the amazing eight wins in a row record set by the Chinese driver had been broken. Daniel, on just his second time here, had steered clear of any troubles to claim the runners up spot.



Henk was third, and with Chonsawat handed a 60 second penalty after the race, Saravut claimed fourth and Shaun Varney, on his Bangsaen debut bagged the final podium spot, the New Zealander nursing the car to the finishline after an earlier bump, which meant all three B-Quik drivers finished the race on the winners’ podium.




Sarun returned to the race after his incident and finished on the lead lap with the points he gained for sixth place vital in terms of the championship and especially with Narasak non-scoring that allowed everyone else to make up ground. Chonsawat after his penalty was applied was classified in seventh place.





- Edd Ellison - also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/bangsaen-gp-super-car-gtm-plus-race-1---165705.html

05.07.2017 / MaP

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