TSS Qualifying and Race 1 at Buriram :  Super Car GTM

TSS Qualifying and Race 1 at Buriram : Super Car GTM

21.05.2016: Thailand Super Series at Buriram Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul had turned in a blistering

Thailand Super Series at Buriram

Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul had turned in a blistering pace throughout the untimed sessions earlier in the week and he carried that scintillating form straight into the qualifying session.

No one could touch the white Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo LP620-2 as he dropped into the mid 37s around the circuit in the rising midday temperatures. He went straight to the top of the timesheets early on and stayed there has the hour ticked away.

The big surprise of the session was the return to front running form of the factory Toyota 86s and it was Khun Nattavude Charoensukhawatana who took the early fight to the Lamborghini on the timesheets. The hugely experienced driver banged in a 1:38.124 to move into provisional P2 quite early in the session.

The Toyota has had major revisions for this year led out by a change to push rod suspension and that has improved the dynamics of this Thai-developed car at a stroke.

The team has also made changes to the bodyshell to reduce weight and the front aerodynamics have been upgraded and include a big new radiator.

Those changes seem to have paid off and Khun Nattavude, who lost running time the previous day waiting for replacement parts to arrive, looked to be right back in the game.

He would be tipped down the order a couple of places by the B-Quik drivers though, to the end of the session still in an excellent P4. His teammate Khun Nattapong Horthongkum continued that good work by posting the seventh fastest time.

As the qualifying session moved into the final quarter of an hour and the track started going away from the drivers, the Audis, which has encountered traffic on their early runs, bucked the settling down of the timesheets and came into their own, Khun Daniel Bilski and Khun Henk J. Kiks moving into P2 and P3 respectively, closing the gap to the Lamborghini down to three tenths of a second, the two B-Quik Racing R8’s separated by a matter of a couple of hundredths of a second.

As the session wound to a conclusion Khun Sarun put pole beyond doubt by raising the bar further to become the only driver to dip below the 1:37s, his best lap in 1:36.720 being unmatched by anyone.

It was his first ever pole position in Super Car, as he kicks off his third Super Car season, and choosing the Huracán to replace his 997 seems to been a shrewd move that’s paying off already.

B-Quik Racing was also back in business and after a strong pre season test at Bira Circuit the team had arrived here quietly confident and ready to get the job done, running two R8s for the first time as Khun Daniel graduates from the team’s venerable Porsche.

The two Audi drivers could barely be spilt during qualifying, Khun Daniel’s best was a 1:37.863 and Khun Henk’s a 1:37.884, and that set them up superbly in P2 and P3 on the grid for the afternoon’s first race.

Khun Nattavude joined Khun Henk on the outside of the second row and while Row 3 was led out by the reigning GTM champion, Khun Kantasak Kusiri, who struggled to match the fast times being set by the Audi, Lamborghini and Toyota drivers and was batted down to P5 as the session went into the closing 10 minutes.

However he was just half a second off the two Audis and only three tenths off the Toyota so there was plenty to come in the race.

Khun Voravud Bhirombhakdi made it an all-Ferrari third row as he closed up during the final minutes of the session to record a time only four-tenths away from his teammate.

 That meant Row 3 was an all GTM champions row, the pair having divided up the title between them for the last two years. However they clearly needed to find more pace for the race if they were to get their title defence off to a flying start.

Khun Nattapong planted his Toyota on the fourth row and alongside him was the first of the Porsche runners, the new-generation 991 of Khun Aekarat Discharoen, who posted at 1:39.018 that bested the fastest time set by the ‘gold’ 991 of Khun Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem by just two tenths of a second. These two drivers have experience in the car from last year to call upon as they look to make progress.

The top ten was wrapped up by the Holden Commodore VE of Khun Craig Corliss. That wasn’t where last year’s championship runner up wanted to be but he’s had a few issues to overcome during the week that have put him on the backfoot.

 The New Zealander has drafted in racing legend Khun Craig Baird to help him this week and he was looking for better pace from the race.

Then in fact came another New Zealander, Khun Shaun Varney, who is debuting in B-Quik’s Porsche 997 and a tidy session saw this young driver, on what was his first time racing in Thailand, turn in a 1:40.229 best lap that would see him lead out the sixth row.

Alongside him would be another ‘997’ and although Khun Pinet Piyaoui lost a lot of track time when he beached his #21 Porsche on the outside of Turn 5, however, with the session being 1-hour long, there was plenty of time for the recovery truck to return the car to the garage and for him to get back into the action and post a useful 1:41.612.

The final three runners were also all Porsche mounted. Khun Saravut Sereethoranakul has taken over the ‘997’ that was driven by his pole sitting brother Khun Sarun last year and he turned in a neat and tidy session to record a 1:42.077 on his Super Car debut.

Wrapping up the order came the two Painkiller Racing Porsches, the 997 of Khun Naputt Assakul and the 991 of Khun Paul Kanjanapas.

The former is moving up to GTM this year after racing the team’s little Ginetta in GTC last season while the latter is getting to grips with his new 991. Both were neat and tidy all through the session to record solid times in the 1:43 bracket.

TSS Buriram:  Super Car GTM: Race 1
Thailand Super Series at Buriram

As the big beasts lined up on the grid in the blazing late afternoon sun for the first race of the weekend for GTM, the air was crackling with anticipation.

However there was already drama unfolding as on the warm up lap the B-Quik Porsche driven by Khun Shaun suffered a small oil fire and he quickly pulled over, the young New Zealander’s Super Car debut was going to have to wait a little bit longer.

Removing the stricken car meant the red flag waved and the field reformed on the grid with the race distance being reduced by 1 lap.

At the green lights Khun Sarun made no mistakes and controlled the pack from pole as it surged into Turn 1 but behind him it was all change as the two B-Quik drivers, Khun Daniel and Khun Henk, lost places while the two red Ferraris swapped positions as Khun Kantasak also got a poor start.

At the front Khun Nattavude jumped Khun Daniel into Turn 1 to take P2 and he was flying, the former champion hustling the Lamborghini down the hill into Turn 3. Khun Daniel meanwhile didn’t drop any more places and tucked up into P3.

Khun Craig got a flyer from the start, scything his way into the top ten but as the pack surged down through Turn 2 Khun Saravut saw his debut in Super Car prematurely come to an end as he suffered a broken throttle cable and had to park his Porsche up which resulted in the Safety Car being deployed. Before the cars received the boards and slowed to a crawl though Khun Kantasak got the place back he had lost to Khun Craig at the start.

So at the end of the first lap as the pack formed up behind the Safety Car it was the white #55 Lamborghini of Khun Sarun that led them round followed by Khun Nattavude, Khun Daniel, Khun Voravud, Khun Kantasak, Khun Henk, Khun Craig, Khun Nattapong and then the two 991s of Khun Pitsanu and Khun Aekarat.

The Safety Car came back in after two laps and Khun Sarun played exactly the same script as he held onto the lead, again with Khun Nattavude harrying him down the hill, but through the sweep around Turn 3 the Lamborghini pulled out a couple of car lengths and from the gingerly braking of the Toyota it appeared that Khun Nattavude was already suffering stopping problems.

Meanwhile at the restart Khun Daniel lost P3 to Khun Kantasak while Khun Nattapong was really flying, he picked off two places to move up to P7.

At the end of the first green flag lap following the Safety Car period it was Khun Sarun back in full control of the race at the front, pulling quickly away from Khun Nattavude with Khun Kantasak next up followed by Khun Daniel, Khun Voravud, Khun Henk, Khun Nattapong and Khun Pitsanu.

Into the fifth lap the main action was Khun Henk who was now setting the pace of the race trying to wrestle P5 off Khun Voravud as he worked the Audi back into contention while Khun Craig was slipping away and had dropped down to P9.

By lap 6 Khun Sarun has a handy lead of 2.7 seconds and Khun Nattavude had a further 3 seconds over Khun Kantasak as the top three began to spread out. The main action was behind them though as Khun Henk was harrying Khun Voravud but now had Khun Nattapong right on his tail and Khun Pitsanu had closed up to make it a four car battle for the final podium position.

In the Amateur (AM) class Khun Pinet was in command but had just three tenths of a second over Khun Paul who was really hustling the white Porsche in front, but not finding any useful gaps, while Khun Naputt, following a couple of early spins, had dropped away from this tussling duo and was 8 seconds adrift of the key battle for gentleman glory.

The race passed the half distance mark and the top ten remained the same but the four car battle for P5 was now nose-to-tail, Khun Voravud, Khun Henk, Khun Nattapong and Khun Pitsanu all locked together but seemingly no one could get a break. The #26 Audi was certainly swarming all over the #89 Ferrari.

Meanwhile a little bit further forward Khun Daniel had closed back up on Khun Nattavude and the gap was down to just half a second.

 Lap 9 and the battle for P5 evolved as Khun Henk finally got past the Ferrari on the run down the hill to Turn 3 and within a couple of turns he was pulling away fast as Nattapong took his turn in the queue and closed up onto the tail of the #89 Ferrari.

Then Khun Nattavude, who had looked uncomfortable with his brakes all race, slowed up dramatically, had a couple of excursions onto the grass and plummeted down the running order. He was clearly in big trouble and indeed at the end of the lap he boxed to retire.

So at the conclusion of lap 9 as the race headed into its final third it was Khun Sarun, who now had a massive 12 second cushion over Khun Kantasak, then came Khun Daniel, Khun Henk, Khun Voravud, Khun Nattapong, Khun Pitsanu, Khun Craig and Khun Aekarat, who was all over the back of the Holden, while Khun Pinet, who rounded out the top 10, was still was in control in the AM class and still fending off Khun Paul.

Lap 11 and Khun Daniel was on the back of Khun Kantasak as the battle for P2 hotted up, he stuck his nose out a few times but the reigning GTM champion had all the bases covered.

Khun Henk was now bridging the gap and was just 2 seconds back from his teammate. At the end of the lap Khun Pitsanu spun and lost ground while Khun Voravud also suffered a spin and lost places.

As race went into the penultimate lap, lap 13, Khun Henk had closed the gap to his teammate and the Dutchman was now the fastest man on the track and the only driver to be lapping in the 1:38 bracket.

 The #26 Audi was really flying, was there still time for a three-way battle for P2?

Into the last lap and Khun Henk was looking hard for a way past his teammate, it was a full on battle between the ‘bumblebees’ now.

Khun Daniel was having to cover his rear end and at the same time try to find a way past Khun Kantasak who was running inch perfect and not looking like he was going to relinquish P2.

That was the state of play through the last lap, Khun Henk couldn’t get quite close enough to his teammate; he really needed DRS!

 Khun Kantasak took advantage of the teammates squabbling away and kept a couple of car lengths in front and that was it as they came round to the finishline apart from Khun Craig running wide out of the last turn and handing a place to Khun Aekarat.

However Khun Henk was immediately hit by a time penalty for a flag infringement, which dropped him down to P11, and that meant Khun Nattapong moved up to fourth, Khun Aekarat snatched the final podium position and Khun Craig was up to P6.

Behind Khun Craig came Khun Voravud who held on to salvage P7, while Khun Pitsanu recovered from his spin to nail down P8.

Then came Khun Pinet, leading the AM class home to record the first ever victory in the new category. Khun Paul chased him all the way to the flag but couldn’t find a gap while Khun Naputt claimed third in the AM class on his Super Car debut.

- Edd Ellison -   also photo


21.05.2016 / MaP

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