Days of thunder in Buriram with TA2 Thailand in TSS

Days of thunder in Buriram with TA2 Thailand in TSS

12.09.2017: With the confirmation that ‘TA2 Thailand’ will join the Thailand Super Series (TSS) programme for the 2018 season the build-

With the confirmation that ‘TA2 Thailand’ will join the Thailand Super Series (TSS) programme for the 2018 season the build-up to the launch of the new series is now kicking up the gears with two TA2 machines set to be in dynamic exhibition action for the final round of the series in Buriram, which gets underway in a week and a half’s time.

B-Quik Racing drafted in a professional driver to give them an extra edge at the last round. In this circumstance it was yet another new face into the paddock as Audi factory driver Pierre Kaffer assisted the team during its first day of testing, on the Wednesday, helping to set up their brace of R8s and coach their two drivers, Henk J. Kiks and Daniel Bilski.

Over a long and dramatic weekend in Buriram, James Runacres was clearly one of the drivers that stood out, he looked pacey all weekend in the bright yellow #17 Mazda RX-7 as the Rotary Revolution engineers continue unlock more and more speed and agility out of this racecar. This ambitious racecar-built project, now nearing its second full season in TSS, is reaping the rewards of that development period and stands very close to achieving a first Super Car victory.

Thomas Raldorf is on a real roll and the Dane – in the year he made his return to Super Car – now stands on the brink of grabbing the title after winning both races in Buriram last time out. Add that to his double win at the Bangsaen Grand Prix and that makes it four on the trot. It’s certainly turning into quite a comeback for Thomas to Super Car.

Finally, there will soon be yet another machinery option for the TCR Thailand competitors as Renault’s Mégane is in the process of being developed to TCR’s technical specifications by Swiss-based team Vuković Motorsport, joining a recently flurry of new cars that includes offerings from the Hyundai and Kia brands as well as a dramatic ‘second TCR generation’ Honda Civic from JAS Motorsport.

Ready to rumble

With the confirmation that ‘TA2 Thailand’ will join the TSS programme for the 2018 season the build-up to the launch of the new series is now kicking up the gears with two TA2 machines set to be in dynamic action for the final round of the series in Buriram, which gets underway in a week and a half’s time.

Ahead of that event, on the preceding mid-week, Wednesday 20th September, TA2 will hold a ‘Customer Test Day’ at the circuit for prospective drivers to try out the cars first hand. That will be followed up by demonstrations of the cars on both the Saturday and Sunday lunchtime interval breaks in the TSS programme.

‘TA2 Thailand’ got the ball rolling within the TSS schedule, by presenting a Ford Mustang TA2, which joined the Super Car GTC races, in ‘demonstration’ running mode, during the 10th Bangsaen Grand Prix back in February, and then again at July’s 11th edition.

Now TA2 Thailand, with four cars already in the country, is moving the pace up by demonstrating a Dodge Challenger TA2 alongside the Mustang TA2, later this month in Buriram. And there will be two brand new faces in the cockpits, as vastly experienced New Zealand touring and sportscar racer Craig Baird will be behind the wheel of the Challenger variant while the very familiar face of Grant Supaphongs will drive the Mustang TA2.

The exciting new racing series, which will officially launch in 2018 in Thailand, is underpinned by a state-of-the-art ‘silhouette’ racecar that’s been thought out right down to the little details and offers drivers a capable track package: a ‘spec’ machine that allows user ability to be the benchmark thanks to that machinery parity while also developing their racing skills in an advanced racecar.

The project is the brainchild of veteran Super Car competitor Craig Corliss, best known for running ‘V8 Supercars’, firstly a Ford Falcon and latterly a Holden Commodore. Craig Corliss’s idea is to fill a niche in Thai motorsport, slotting in between the evergreen A-, B- and C-segment production car categories and Super Car/FIA GT3 cars.

 TA2 Thailand will allow drivers to make the step from any of the junior ranks, even to come straight from a karting background, and then hone their skills in a pukka racecar that comes at an affordable price and with low running costs.

Putting Craig Baird into the car will provide an excellent benchmark of exactly what the car can do on a circuit like Buriram, he has track experience here and knows this type of machine while his experience and ability to win isn’t in any question – that stretches back more than quarter of a century as he kicked off his racing career in Formula Pacific in 1991 – and he won that championship at the first time of asking.

The now-46-year-old New Zealander is however probably best known for his decades of success in Porsche’s Carrera Cup ‘one make’ championships and has amassed an unrivalled eleven titles split between the Australian and New Zealand series.

Craig Baird’s also got more than a decade’s experience racing the ‘V8’ Holden Commodore in the Australian V8 Supercars championship. When Porsche Carrera Cup Asia joined our round at the North East track two years ago – which resulted in his almost customary trip to the dedicated Porsche podium – an instant connection was made with Craig Corliss who was positioned halfway up the pitlane in his, then bright green, Holden Commodore.

From that first connection Craig Baird has subsequently been back to both Buriram and Bangsaen to assist Craig Corliss’s Kiwi Racing Team to extract the max from the Holden and now that involvement is going to go a step further as he will test and demonstrate the Dodge Challenger TA2 in Buriram.

This will be Craig Baird’s first time in the TA2 generation of racecar but it won’t be too much of a fresh an experience as he’s raced just about every super car brand and that usefully includes ‘Trans Am’ cars which he’s taken to victory multiple times back in his native New Zealand as well as competing in that series in its native USA. So he’s the perfect benchmark to see just what lap times the car can do and evaluate exactly where TA2 Thailand is going fit into the TSS pyramid next year.

Grant, meanwhile, is a very well-known competitor in the Thai paddock and needs little introduction. Last year he was a member of the Krating Daeng Racing Team in TCR Thailand and this year he’s driving in the Thailand Touring Car Championship, bagging a double victory during last month’s most recent round of the series.

He was also part of Toyota Team Thailand’s factory entry in this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours and he knows Chang International Circuit inside out, so he’s razor sharp and ready to put his skills to good use behind the wheel of the Mustang TA2.

Grant is looking forward to the test – and he has high expectations. “I believe it will be a good racecar because of the spaceframe [chassis], the ratio gearbox, system of shock up and the big muscle of the V8 engine,” he says.

“It’s going to be a new experience for me to drive this kind of racecar. I’m used to driving touring cars, sports racecars, GT cars and single seaters but for TA2 we can say it’s like a NASCAR, a big car, a big engine [and] a lot of power so I think I need a bit time for set up then we will see what this car can do on the Buriram circuit.”

The machine that Craig Baird and Grant will power out onto the track is underpinned by a ‘spec’ spaceframe chassis that currently comes with the option of three body styles – Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger – and all are fitted with the same 6.2-litre GM V8 engine.

That use of a common powertrain keep performances level and reduce costs – that gives it a bite to match its looks. TA2 Thailand has dyno’d the car to set it at producing 565 hp and a highly impressive 550 lb/ft (745 Nm) torque at 6,500 rpm on Maxima Racing Fuel.

All the components used in the TA2 racecar are sourced from high quality component manufacturers, such as the Penske 2-way adjustable shock absorbers, and it has a fully integrated safety package including a plumbed in fire extinguisher system, (both auto and manual) internal and external kill switches and the recently introduced lateral driver safety nets.

While being identical under the skin in chassis and powertrain terms, every single body panel, such as the bonnet, doors and door pillars as well as the front and rear windshields, are unique to the respective versions. The whole package weights at around 1170 kg.

The TA2 concept is currently a hot property in U.S. racing with 40 plus car grids and is also booming in Australia and Scandinavia but for ASEAN markets its dynamics have been raised further with core revisions to the cars.

After a development programme here the cars are all fitted with a bespoke 6-speed paddle shift operated sequential transmission by HGT as well as featuring a fully integrated MoTeC M150 engine management and data acquisition system. Additionally, they come with a 9-inch Detroit locking diff, Auto Blip and Traction Control which further improves driveability.

As a pure racing car, the TA2 cockpit has been optimally designed for only the driver. TA2 Thailand however also offers the option of a 2-seat/2-door version which, while featuring a number of revisions, still fits into the ‘spec’ chassis format and is ‘ready to race’.

 Changes to the 2-seat/2-door version include alterations to the chassis, reformatting of the cockpit layout, including fire safety system, and rerouting the exhaust system. This car comes equipped with the specific Thailand upgrades and will be the version – the Challenger – that’s driven by Craig Baird in Buriram next week.

There will also be another upgrade for TA2 Thailand in Buriram as the Challenger will be fitted with custom designed 18-inch alloy rims, instead of the car’s usual 15-inch steel wheels and American-style big wall tyres. This will allow TA2 to phase in this option and evaluate control tyres – as well as allowing for representative lap times – well ahead of the 2018 season.

“It’s very exciting news that TSS have confirmed a TA2 championship for 2018,” says Craig Corliss. “That’s subject to five cars being on grid, but should there not be five cars by the first round TSS we will slot the cars in, where exactly will depend on the times at Buriram this month, so TA2 will be able to progressively build up.

“To show the real speed and performance of the TA2 cars we will have a test day at Buriram on Wednesday 20th September prior to the TSS round,” he continues. “Any prospective drivers can contact me to arrange a test drive and we will also have our engineers as well as Craig Baird and Grant Supaphongs on hand to guide drivers and to give data feedback.”

“I would also like to give a big thanks to Simmons in Australia for rushing the production of our TA2 18-inch rims for testing at Buriram,” Craig Corliss concludes. Without their great support we would not have had the custom made rims available for testing.”

- Edd Ellison - also photo


12.09.2017 / MaP

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