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Latest News From Thailand Super Series
Posted by: newsla on Apr 16, 2014 - 04:35 PM
Sports Cars
Latest News From Thailand Super Series


There’s now less than month remaining before the opening round of Thailand Super Series 2014 - which is set to take place at Sepang Circuit in Malaysia - gets underway. Preparations are now in full swing across every category that is making the trip south.

 

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While some racecars have already arrived in Sepang and drivers have been on track testing, other teams have been in last minute shakedown action in Thailand, at Bira Circuit, as they make the final preparations to the machines they will race next month.

One of the top contenders in Super Car Class 2-GTM is Khun Aekarat Discharoen; he’s experienced, fast and intelligent. He will also be starting his second year with the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup - and promises to be pitching for the podium steps again. His car required a major rebuild following Bangsaen and late last week Khun Aekarat gave the machine its shakedown at Bira Circuit.

There has been more Porsche track action at Bira recently - this time two of Thailand’s stars of the future, brothers Khun Kantasak and Kantadhee Kusiri, got behind the wheel of the Painkiller Racing example of Khun Paul Kanjanapas who was also in testing action.

Super Car’s brand-new Class 3-GTC is attracting plenty of attention and one of the marques set to appear on the entry list is Lotus. Niche Cars, organisers of the Lotus Cup Thailand, was at Bira last week to begin training two drivers who aim to race in the category this year using the Exige V6 Cup Type R.

And yet more Porsche testing action at Bira. Drift star Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul had his first taste of his new ‘997’ fresh out of the box a couple of weeks ago; last week he was back, this time with the car upgraded for Sepang and with more running time in the new machine his laptimes were falling fast.

In Super Production, TSS’s first Russian drive acquitted himself very well on his racing debut last year. Khun Andrey Snetkov and the TEZ Tour TW Pro Racing Team will be heading to Sepang to start their second racing season in very good form after conducting a successful shakedown at Bira.

Meanwhile at Sepang some of the biggest guns in TSS have been showing their hand over the last few days. Out testing on the Malaysian circuit has been Indharasak Techaterasiri (McLaren), Khun Henk J. Kiks (Audi R8 LMS Cup and Lamborghini Gallardo duo Khun Umar A. Rahman and Khun Bobby Buncharoen.

All systems go for A Motorsport

One of the certain front-runners in what promises to be a very hotly contested Super Car Class 2-GTM this year, Khun Aekarat Discharoen, was back on track last week after the close season break. But his return was with a twist as a major rebuild in recent months was required for his machine, which suffered heavy accident damage during the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival last December.

That incident represented a disappointing end to Khun Aekarat’s excellent first year driving a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, the longtime Subaru driver having ditched the Japanese brand and acquired the popular German sportscar as he aimed to keep himself at the front of the pack. A very necessary upgrade as the competitive standards required in Super Car Class 2 climbed to new levels for the first year of TSS.

That accident in Bangsaen necessitated major repairs for the Porsche with the chassis sustaining damage - but crucially the shell was repairable and was fixed. With replacement bodypanels fitted the rebuild was competed just a few days before the test and the A Motorsport team arrived at Bira Circuit last Thursday, just before the Songkran holiday period kicked off, to give the rejuvenated car its first track time since its rebuild.

"Today is the first time [we run the car] after we fix and repair everything," said Khun Aekarat. "[So] I just set up the suspension, test everything, the gearbox, the engine and [we] run and check everything."

The main objective of the test was to ensure the major structural repairs had been successful - and Khun Aekarat reported that the car was in great shape, something he clearly demonstrated by immediately getting up to a competitive pace on his opening run. "We check the body [as] we changed some pieces of the body and chassis," he said. "Everything is okay, no problem with the [chassis] and suspension."

With the shakedown successfully completed, A-Motorsport will now aim to squeeze in a second test at Bira before the trip to Sepang gets underway; this time the team will focus on setting up and fine tuning up the Porsche. "We need to comeback for another test run as we just check everything now," he adds.

This year will be Khun Aekarat’s second driving the Porsche so he should understand the car much better. Last year he swapped away from the four-wheel-drive Subaru Imprezas, which are the trademark of A Motorsport, to run the unique rear-engined 997 and he was as quickly into the groove and as consistent as ever.

In Sepang on his debut with the Porsche he recovered to finish sixth in the first race and followed that up with a very strong second place in the final race. On the first visit to Bira in August he claimed a double podium with two fighting third places while on TSS’s second visit to the Pattaya track two months later he added another third place in the first race and a sixth in the topsy-turvy rain-drenched second race. Finally in Bangsaen Khun Aekarat proved just as fast in the Porsche on a street course; he netted third in the first race while adding a second in the final race, which was stopped after the accident and the results counted back a lap.

That all added up to a remarkably consistent season for Khun Aekarat, topped by two second places and four thirds - points scored in every single race and six trips to the podium from the total of eight races. That gave him third place overall in the Class 2 championship as well as being the top privateer entrant. In fact he was just 8 points away from the championship runner up, the #38 factory Toyota 86 of Khun Nattapong Horthongkum, and less than a win’s worth of points away the champion, the #38 Toyota 86 of Khun Nattavude Charoensukhawatana. A very impressive year.

Now he’s looking forward to the new season and is happy with the capability of the Porsche, which has been rebuilt to the same specifications it completed last year in. "Everything is the same, no upgrades," Khun Aekarat confirmed.

However he’s confident that this can be a driver-car package to look out for in what is already promising to be an ultra-competitive year for Super Car Class 2-GTM. "I think [I can do] better than last year," Khun Aekarat says.

Also in the A Motorsport garage during the test was the Subaru Impreza that Khun Aekarat’s teammate, Khun Denn Piyaoui, has driven in recent seasons. Eclipsed last year in Super Car Class 2 by the flood of new cars, Khun Denn however dug deep and hauled the Japanese machine into the top ten in the first six races, only missing out on the final two races at Bangsaen after an injury caused him to DNS.

That all added up to give Khun Denn an impressive eighth place overall in the championship. Despite being a favourite with the fans, the blue Impreza may not be seen racing this year.

However it was in attendance during the A Motorsport test day with Khun Aekarat giving the machine the once over. "It’s just a test run [to] check the engine, gearbox and suspension," he noted.

Superstars kick off testing in Sepang

Although the TSS season opener is still almost four weeks away, such is the intensity of the competition this year that the action has already moved onto Sepang Circuit. Over the last three days some of the biggest names in Super Car have started to show their hand and hit the Malaysian track for testing.

It’s a case of star names and new cars; exciting new cars that is - and ones that will continue to raise the professionalism bar in TSS even further. McLaren and Audi are two prestige brands that TSS will welcome onto the grid this year and both were in action in Sepang over the last couple of days with familiar name drivers in the cockpits.

Khun Indharasak Techaterasiri had his first taste of McLaren power during a test last month at Silverstone Circuit in the UK, now he’s been behind the wheel of the stunning 12C GT3 that he will race in the series this season and after a lean 2013 by his standards, the 2012 Super Car N/A Champion should be right back to the front of the pack.

Khun Henk J. Kiks will bring the Audi name to Super Car’s Class 2-GTM this season and he was out at Sepang yesterday getting to grips with his new R8 LMS Cup for the first time.

Also getting valuable testing kilometres in were two Lamborghini Gallardo pilots - Khun Umar A. Rahman in the ‘Super Trofeo’ version that he debuted in Bangsaen last December; it was his first time on the Malaysian track driving his new car although he knows Sepang Circuit very well.

Meanwhile Super Car Class 1-GT3 driver Khun Bobby Buncharoen was also out on track; he drove the Gallardo LP620-4 GT3 here last year and the car has undergone a number of updates since, including the incorporation of the ‘FL2’ aero kit. (There will be a full report from the Sepang testing in the next TSS News update).

Lotus drivers train for Super Car Class 3-GTC

Niche Cars, organiser of the popular Lotus Cup Thailand which will be back for a third consecutive year on the TSS programme, headed for Bira Circuit late last week to hand a first track test to two new drivers - ones that aim to bring the Lotus name to the Super Car Class 3-GTC entry lists this season.

"Today we came here to test our drivers who want to join Super Car Class 3 with the [Lotus] Exige Cup Type R," explained Khun Pete Vivatsurakit, Marketing Manager for Niche Cars, the official Lotus importer for Thailand, and responsible for the Lotus Cup Thailand, a one make series reserved for race track versions of Lotus’ Elise and Exige.

Both drivers are new to circuit racing, although one is well known already to drift racing fans’. That means the pair have to achieve specific hurdles if they are to be allowed to compete in Super Car this year. As the performance and dynamic standards of the racecars grows, TSS wants to be sure that drivers are capable of fully handling these machines to ensure maximum safety, for both themselves and their rivals, at all times. Every Super Car class will have an entry cutoff time, which is based on laptimes at Bira Circuit, and every driver will have to achieve these if they are to be allowed to compete.

That was the first step of the Niche Cars test last week - giving the two drivers extra cockpit time ahead of the arrival in Thailand of the new Exige V6 Cup Type R racers that they will run this season, as Khun Pete explains.

"The regulation of TSS says [drivers] need to drive the normal [Exige] V6 in 1:10 so they can have a licence to go to Class 3, so that’s why we come here as we want them to learn," he said. "This is their first time so maybe 1:10 is impossible, but they’re getting closer. In their first laps they did 1:17, their first time in the car." Khun Pete reported that by the time they did their second runs they were in the 1:14 bracket - and this was with the test Exige V6 running radial tyres on standard road production wheels. "So I think if we give them two or more days they will get 1:10," he added.

Both drivers should be quite capable in Super Car Class 3-GTC once up to speed in the Exige V6 Cup Type R. "They haven’t circuit raced," admits Khun Pete, although certainly one of the names is familiar to motorsport fans here - Khun ‘Pan’ Thamtharana. However he’s probably better known in the grandstands by his drifting nickname ‘Pan Overdrive’.

Khun Pan has been competing in drifting for the last half decade at the highest level in Thailand, including in D1GP and Formula Drift Thailand, driving a Nissan Silvia S15 equipped with the powerful turbocharged 2JZ-GTE engine. He races for the professional ‘Overdrive Drift Team’.

The second driver is new to racing, but acquitted himself well during the first test, consistently working his times down and getting used to the Exige racecar. "P’Tum never has experienced racing but he is our Lamborghini customer so he would like to have a racing hobby," notes Khun Pete.

The differences between the regulations for the Lotus Cup Thailand and Super Car Class 3-GTC means that drivers won’t be able to run in both series during the race weekends, although both championships are on the same programme and share the same paddock. The key metric making the difference is the requirement for radial tyres in the Lotus Cup and the use of slicks in Super Car.

"We have to change the tyre to the slick [for Super Car Class 3-GTC] so this is a problem if we put the slick on the [Exige] which is set for the radial tyres," admits Khun Pete. "So if you put the slick on, the oil sump needs to be changed and the traction control programme would also miscalculate so [it] has to be changed, so we need to set up the whole car to just fit with the new tyre. And also the size of the tyre doesn’t match with the Lotus."

That means the two drivers will focus on Super Car Class 3-GTC and the Exige V6 Cup Type R will be optimised for the TSS regulations. "We will just go to Class 3 with two cars for sure and we will ask Lotus Motorsport to come here to setup the cars," says Khun Pete. That factory relationship builds on the Lotus Cup’s appearance at Bangsaen during the final TSS event of last year when factory technicians came over from the UK to assist Niche Cars in setting up its new batch of more powerful Exige V6 Cup racers.

It also means that a fresh order of Exige V6 Cup racers has been placed with the UK factory. "We will probably order about five cars, two or three will join [Super Car] Class 3 and two or three [will] join the Lotus Cup," says Khun Pete.

Due to delivery schedule constraints, expect the new Exige V6 Cup Type R machines to join the Super Car Class 3-GTC ranks in time for TSS’s Race 3 & 4 at Bira Circuit in mid-July. "The new cars won’t arrive in time [for Sepang] and the Lotus Cup won’t go to Sepang this year so we will start [both programmes] at Bira Circuit," says Khun Pete.

Meanwhile, the Lotus Cup Thailand has already established itself as part of the Thai motorsport landscape - offering a unique set of metrics, close-fought one make racing at the wheel of light and agile pukka racecars with the participants centered on the businesspeople customer base of Niche Cars. The series is also set to grow further this year. "I think we will have two or three more [drivers]," says Khun Pete.

There will also be some tweaks to the rules, notably Niche Cars will open up the top class - and that will allow the drivers to develop their racing skills further and drop their laptimes. "The regulations will change a bit for Class A," notes Khun Pete. "We will open it up, allow them to modify the engine so they can have a more powerful car."

That will allow the one make championship to further fulfill its ambition to be a ‘ladder’ series, offering its participants the chance to develop their racecraft and then smoothly open the door for them to compete at a high level.

Young hotshots taste Porsche power

Thailand’s two ultra-fast and talented young racing brothers, Kantasak and Kantadhee Kusiri, had their first - albeit quite brief - taste of driving one of the benchmark machines of global sportscar racing, Porsche’s ubiquitous 997.

Porsche's ‘997 generation’ racer really can be considered to be the benchmark; it’s been around sports car racing for decade and has pervaded every sports car series, everywhere - only now is a new generation model taking its place. It’s also become a very popular choice in TSS over the last couple of seasons with further new examples heading for Super Car this season. The 997 is also regarded as a tricky beast to tame thanks to unique characteristics, particularly to its engine being slung over the back wheels.

The backdrop to the two youngsters’ drive was an afternoon's testing by Khun Paul Kanjanapas who was getting behind the wheel of his Porsche 997 GT3 Cup for the first time since the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival.

Last year Khun Paul contested two TSS rounds with this Porsche; as well as the final round in Bangsaen, he also took part in the season opener in Sepang.

This test though represented Khun Paul's first opportunity to drive his #60 car, still bearing Bangsaen racing numbers, on his 'home' circuit, thus providing a real benchmark for him. With such limited cockpit time thus far the afternoon also gave him vital kilometres on the 997 as he seeks to extract more and more of its potential. Pitlane support for the test came from B-Quik Racing mechanics.

Sharing the black and yellow B-Quik liveried car during the afternoon was another Thai racer and noted car collector Khun Thummanoon Pornrojanagoon, the pair running alternating and somewhat longer stints than usual on used tyres.

The end of the afternoon saw the two young drivers strapped in for their first taste of Porsche power. Khun Kantadhee, who is the reigning TSS Super 1500 champion and will graduate to Super 2000 with Team Eakie this season, went out first. He turned in half a dozen laps before handing over to his older brother.

Driving a Honda Civic FD, Khun Kantasak was runner up in Super 2000 last year after an enthralling season-long battle with Khun Tin Sritrai (BMW) and will graduate further up the ladder this year.

He's already tried out a Super Car Class 2-GTM machine at Bira; having had some laps previously at Bira Circuit in the Ferrari 458 Challenge of Khun Voravud Bhirombhakdi.

Just like with his Ferrari run, Khun Kantasak was quickly onto the pace in the Porsche, which was by now on very worn tyres. Both young drivers acquitted themselves well, driving smoothly and quickly - expect to see both in Super Car soon.

Russian racer sets sights on more progress during second season

Khun Andrey Snetkov impressed everyone during his debut year in 2013. It was in fact his first year in racing, just as it was for his team. And it was straight out of the racing storybook as ‘Year 1’ turned out to be a real seesaw mix of podiums and incidents.

Now Khun Andrey and the TEZ Tour TW Pro Racing Team are ready for a second stab at Super Production and they’re all set for Sepang after a successful final test at Bira Circuit with their Toyota Vios which has been rebuilt over the last few months.

But first a recap of 2013. Khun Andrey certainly admits that there were ups an downs, but for a fresh faced newcomer he really has to be very happy with the net result. "Looking back, it is reasonable to say that the season was difficult, but pretty successful," he says. "Even the team considered the first year as a trial period and [had] never participated in the motor racing before [but we] managed to get few podiums during the year and sixth position in class."

It all started well in Sepang last May for Khun Andrey and the TEZ Tour TW Pro Racing Team with an impressive third place in Super Production’s highly competitive Class C in the first race of the weekend. From that high it came undone though in the second race as a puncture saw the white, green and orange Vios retiring after trundling back to the pits on its right hand rear rim.

Two top-ten finishes at the first Bira round in August kept the tall Russian firmly in the points hunt before the second trip to Bira a couple of months later netted Khun Andrey another podium with third in race two, that coming after a tenth in the first race.

Onto Bangsaen and another top-ten finish in the first race was quickly followed by more accident damage in the second race and a second DNF of the year. However that all added up to six points finishes from eight races and a final points tally that was good enough to comfortably claim sixth place in the Class C championship - a great platform to build on for his second racing year. "This result gives concrete hope for improvement [this] season," admits Khun Andrey, who is the first Russian driver to join TSS.

He’s also pleased to have made his racing debut in TSS and reckons that Thailand’s premier motorsport championship has helped him find his feet in the world of motorsport. "One of the biggest parts of my good start was [the] professionalism and high level of organisation of Racing Spirit and Thailand Super Series. [The] organisers were always supportive for all the aspects of races and helped [me] to understand the related requirements and routine things."

‘Year 2’ will see the same combination of driver, team and racecar, back on the Super Production entry list - all one year older, wiser and hopefully all working like clockwork. "The new season looks promising," says Khun Andrey.

His Vios probably isn’t the strongest car package in Super Production's Class C, however the Russian driver reports the car has been rebuilt over the close season and its shakedown run at Bira saw it ready to be whipped into good shape.

"We had very few of the usual new-build teething problems and anything that has arisen has been very minor," says Khun Andrey. "That alone is enormously satisfying and is largely attributable to the quality of the preparation, which is a credit to all the guys in the workshop."

With the minor niggles now out of the way a final test before the Sepang trip saw the car running satisfactory. "After couple of weeks of struggling with new car set up we completed a successful test of the car at Bira last Sunday, granted with [a] very bright shiny day and good track conditions."

Next stop is Malaysia. So what are his targets for 2014? "My objectives for [the] new season are to keep the car in reliable condition, improve my individual driving skills and performances, and of course fight for every point in every race," says Khun Andrey. A modest racing driver certainly, but realistically, although the car is likely to be the weak spot, he has to be a very serious contender for the Class C podium at every race and to be spending the season keeping a very close eye on the top of the points classification in his class.

Drift star all set for TSS debut after promising second Bira test

Following a first shakedown test by Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul at Bira Circuit a couple of weeks ago, this top drift star who is set to turn his attention to Super Car this year, was back last week at the Pattaya track for a second test in his newly-acquired Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.

The car has come to Thailand from the UK and for its debut run it was straight out of the box. Between the tests the German sportscar has been upgraded to the specification it will race in at Sepang next month; that essentially comprised of a new front splitter and new suspension - and Khun Sarun is happy with the progress that has been made. "I got higher speeds in [the] 100R corner and [through] S1 and S2," he said at the end of the second test.

Both key areas for upgrades made quite a difference to the pristine white car’s performance. "When [at] over 140 kilometres an hour the [new] splitter produces more download," says Khun Sarun. "And [the] 997 does need front downforce."

And did the new suspension also improve the car's capability? "Sure, [it] makes more grip in front and makes [the] rear of the car more stable," says the driver, who is so far much more familiar to Thai drift fans than circuit racing fans - although that’s all about to change. "So I can push more and more; [it] makes a big change in S1 and S2."

Khun Sarun will face quite a challenging time in Sepang, not only will he be racing a Porsche for the first time, it will also be his first time on the Malaysian track.

But with a strong backbone to his team he’s confident he has the best support package in place. "P’Pom [Khun Somboon Kittitanagorn] my Team Manager knows the track and settings [for the Porsche] 997 for Sepang as he was in Porsche Cup service team for seven years," he notes. "I have confidence that will set up great race car for me."

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