Bangsaen GP: Super Car GTM Plus Race 3 (Race 5 of the year

Bangsaen GP: Super Car GTM Plus Race 3 (Race 5 of the year

05.07.2017: Super Car GTM Plus Race 3 (Race 5 of the year) The third and final race of the weekend saw the Narasak-Voravud stranglehold

Super Car GTM Plus Race 3 (Race 5 of the year)

The third and final race of the weekend saw the Narasak-Voravud stranglehold on the front row broken as Sarun deposed the latter to squeeze his way onto the outside. Instead it was an all-Lamborghini Row 1 with the Gallardo GT3 of Narasak on pole, to give him a clean sweep of all three poles for the weekend and the Huracán Super Trofeo of Sarun alongside.

Voravud, the winner of Friday’s first race, was off the front row for the first time during the weekend but was still very handily placed in P3 with the fastest of the trio of B-Quik Audis, the #27 of Daniel, lining up next to him. Then came the Camaro and the #26 Audi of Henk, with the third Audi, the #93 of Shaun, and the second of the two PSC Motorsport Huracán entries, the #77 driven by Saravut.

After an incident during an earlier race had required safety guardrails to be replaced which took almost an hour, the tight programme was now running late and with Porsche Carrera Cup Asia scheduled to wrap up the day after Super Car GTM Plus/GTM, and with fading light set to become a potential issue, the race was reduced from 19 to 14 laps.

When the lights turned green for 19 laps of racing Sarun surged up alongside Narasak and they went side by side through Turn 1, however the polesitter had the racing line well covered and he led the pack through Turn 2 and single file up the hill with Sarun next up and then Chonsawat who got off to a flying start and powered the thunderous Camaro past both Voravud and Daniel.

That made it three black-and-white racecars at the front as the GTM Plus runners dashed through the mountain section for the first time. Behind them were the trio of Audis with Daniel ahead of Shaun and Henk, the young New Zealander getting the jump at the start on his experienced Dutch teammate.

As the pack trundled through the first gear mountain hairpin, Turn 6, Narasak came out of the turn tardily and Sarun got straight on the gas and pounced, he had the Huracán’s nose just ahead of the Gallardo through Turn 7 and he got on the gas and powered away down the ultra-high speed back straight, pulling out a couple of lengths by the time he stood on the brakes for Turn 8.

Sensing his moment after being stuck in midfield in the first two races following a compromised qualifying session, he seized the opportunity as destiny beckoned with both hands. Sarun was a man on a mission as he saw the race coming towards him and as they crossed the line for the first time he had pulled out almost a second’s advantage over the Vattana Gallardo.

Henk, after getting pipped by his teammate Shaun at the start, was bottled up behind him but it wouldn’t be long before the Dutchman got past, taking advantage of a gearshift issue for the young New Zealander that cost him time through Turn 17.

With 11 laps to go the fight for P1 burst alive once more as Narasak closed right back up on Sarun and then a lap later P3 changed hands as Voravud powered past the Camaro on the straight, it looked like Chonsawat was starting to have issues with the big car.

As the race approached half distance the balance at the front dramatically shifted as Narasak, who was still glued to Sarun’s tail, went down the inside of the Huracán into Turn 18 and then ran wide around the S2 Bangsaen Hotel and as he came back round on the dirty line he spun and clipped the guardrails on the inside of Turn 19.

He righted the car and kept going but the left hand front corner had clearly sustained damage and rubber smoke was pouring off the tyre. However he kept the car at a reasonable racing speed although it didn’t appear to be handling well and didn’t pit next time round.

Voravud passed him early in the lap and then as he came into the beachfront section the #59 Lamborghini dramatically slowed and he would trundle down to the pits where the Reiter mechanics swung into action on the left front corner but the damage was too severe to continue. Narasak was out and as a result the podium positions with six laps to go stood as: Sarun, Voravud, Chonsawat, Daniel and Henk.

The one of the GTM Toyotas following the #93 Audi of Shaun took a late look down the inside into Turn 18 and as it cut in to take the corner it tipped the Audi into a spin and banged into it. However, Shaun was able to spin the car round, get going again and with the next GTM Plus car, the Huracán of Saravut, ten seconds further back down the road, the New Zealand driver was able to hang onto his sixth place.

The top order got a big jolt the next lap, with five to go, as third placed Chonsawat, oversteered into the tyre bundles at Turn 8 and with the Camaro well and truly stuck that brought out the Safety Car. That was in fact both Vattana cars out of the race and the running order as the survivors formed up was Sarun still ahead from Voravud, Daniel, Henk, Shaun and Saravut – all three B-Quik cars were now running in the podium positions for the first time in the race.

The Safety Car went it with just two laps to go so there would be a short – 7.4 km to be exact – dash to the finishline for anyone to dig deep and put in one last effort. Into the last lap Sarun simply disappeared into the distance at the front once again as he continued to show his fastest pace of the weekend, but the battle behind was really hotting up. Henk took a good look at Daniel on the run up to Turn 1 but the Australian had that covered and instead he took an audacious look at Voravud up the inside into Turn 3, but that wasn’t going to pay off.

Daniel seemed to be struggling as the cars surged out of the mountain hairpin for the final time and exploded down the back straight, Henk came straight down the inside as they braked for Turn 8 to pick off third place. Neat and tidy, the Dutchman picking up the pace as the weekend progressed and revelling in there being three races.

That was it for the race, there were to be no more surprises and Sarun pulled out more than three seconds over Voravud during the final two laps to claim his first win here, an emphatic performance that also netted him the fastest lap of the race. With a win and two second place from the three races Voravud had shown superb consistency and had amassed the biggest points haul of anyone all weekend to drag himself right back into the championship running.

Henk also really came into it as the weekend came to a climax to pick up his best result of the three races, Daniel bounced back after his big crash the previous day to claim fourth while Shaun recovered well from his spin and incident to take his second trip to the podium in three races and cap off a pretty tough rookie weekend here.

In the Drivers’ championship standings (provisional) Voravud moves into a 14-point lead thanks to his strong form in Bangsaen that saw him finishing all three races in the top two and after the Ferrari driver only grabbed two third places in Buriram at the opener he bounces from third place into the championship lead.

Narasak adds 20 points for his race two win to climb to 60 points, having won three of the five races held so far this year, but the other two encounters resulted in a double DNF and thus no points so were very costly in championship terms. Sarun wrapped up the weekend in Bangsaen with a maximum points haul and that’s helped him edge up to 53 points with the two very evenly matched B-Quik drivers, Daniel and Henk, next up tied on 50 points.

- Edd Ellison - also photo


05.07.2017 / MaP

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