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May 21, 2014 - 03:35 PM
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Strength In Depth At Sepang
Posted by: newsla on May 21, 2014 - 03:30 PM
Sports Cars
Strength In Depth At Sepang


Thailand Super Series (TSS) 2014 laid claim to real strength in depth a week and a half ago in Sepang as the support programme for Race 1 & 2 of the new season boasted top quality drivers behind the wheel of top quality cars, with oodles of driving skills and fighting spirit on show.

 

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From experienced and successful drivers to the young stars of tomorrow along with plenty of new faces, the three ‘staircase’ categories that travelled south to support the two Super Car classes drew a lot of attention. Those three categories in Sepang comprised of Super 2000, Super 1500 and Super Production.

In Super 2000, the combination of Khun Tin Sritrai and his BMW E90 were unstoppable and the reigning champion kicked off his title defence in the best possible manner with two poles and two wins - giving him clean sweep of available points.

But while Khun Tin made it something of a formality at the front all weekend, there was real quality throughout the field and many drivers stood out as they exuded racing skills while battling non-stop for the remaining Super 2000 podium steps.

They included Civic FD drivers’ Khun Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem, Khun Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya, Khun Thamrong Mahadumrongkul and Khun Munkong Sathienthirakul, the DC 5 of Khun Supachai Weeraborwornpong the private Toyota Altis of Khun Jakthong Navasoopanich and the two factory entered Toyotas of Khun Manat Kulapalanont (86) and Khun Chen Jian Hong (Altis). Having all these ‘name’ drivers on one grid together means it’s set to shape up into another cracking Super 2000 season.

In Super 1500 Khun Weerasak Homsuwan made it two wins out of two while in Super Production it’s already shaping up into being another exciting season with defending champion Khun Kajornsak Na Songkhla (Ford Fiesta) and Khun Pasarit Phromsombat (Honda Jazz) taking a win apiece from two races that saw all the usual hurly-burly that characterises ‘production car’ racing.

Super 2000 - Saturday

Before the lights even turned green the battle for P1 was dealt a fatal blow as Khun Pitsanu peeled off into the pitlane at the end of the formation lap with a puncture. His mechanics would swiftly change the offending wheel but it left him right at the back and with a mountain to climb.

That allowed Khun Tin to power his way into Turn 1 unchallenged and as the pack swept into the right hander he already pulled out several car lengths over Khun Jakthong.

Behind them though was where the battle was shaping up as the Singha-Cosmo 'twins', Khun Kittipol and Khun Thamrong, were sandwiching the factory Toyota of Khun Chen Jian Hong. This latest-generation Altis is fresh out of the box and debuting here, but it was already showing it has potential even if it would turn out to be a tough weekend for the Taiwanese driver.

By the end of the second lap R Hong was in front of the two Singha-Cosmo drivers but he was leading a train of cars that was locked together. A lap later and the positions had all changed as Khun Munkong wrestled his Civic FD into P3 and Khun Kittipol was also past the #58 Toyota which had dropped to P5 while Khun Thamrong was dropping back as he nursed a growing tyre vibration.

A lap later Khun Chen was gone and Khun Munkong was under intense pressure from Khun Kittipol while, after some brilliant driving from his pitlane start, Khun Pitsanu had locked the black-and-gold #90 Civic FD onto the back of these two. Right behind him was the Hong DC5 of Khun Supachai as this four car battle grabbed everyone's attention. Khun Thamrong had by now dropped a couple of seconds off the back of this battle and was holding station, intent on managing his car to the line.

By lap 6 Khun Kittipol was into third but Khun Pitsanu was flying and he soon worked his way though the traffic that was battling for P3. Once clear however the gap was too big to bridge to Khun Jakthong in second and he had to settle for third, a superb position (which also netted Class B honours) bearing in mind his pitlane start.

As the final laps ticked away Khun Munkong once again passed the now-fading Khun Kittipol who was also picked off by Khun Supachai over the final laps as he struggled with clutch problems.

That was it for Race 1 and so after 10 laps and 24 minutes and 37.464 seconds of racing Khun Tin romped across the finishline to claim the first Super 2000 victory of the year. In reality it was little more than a formality and the gap back to Khun Jakthong in second was a massive 23.103 seconds.

Khun Tin also posted the fastest lap of the race, 2:25.857 (136.811 km/h) set on lap 2, that was more than a second and a half quicker than the next best time. In fact Khun Tin was consistently fast, running a pace once the race settled down that was consistently in the 2:25 to 2:27 bracket and no one could match that, the best of the rest - Khun Jakthong and Khun Pitsanu - posting 2:28 to 2:30 bracket laps. With just one race of the year completed it was already looking like Khun Tin's title defence could be a formality.

Third overall went to Khun Pitsanu after he battled back superbly from his pitlane start to win Class B. He was 13.966 seconds off Khun Jakthong at the end and, although he had sliced his way up through the field, his pace just wasn't close enough to the BMW and the hot pre-season favourite to push Khun Tin would be relegated to a chasing role for the weekend.

"I had a problem with the tyre, it exploded and I came in to make a pit start so I could change the tyre," Khun Pitsanu explained afterwards. This was his first race with his new Civic FD and with his new team - and he saw a lot of positives to draw on. "With the result, I’m satisfied," he added. "The car feels good so I think [I can] get out a lot more [out of it], but right now I get used to the car."

Five seconds further back a very strong fourth went to Khun Munkong who in turn was just 1.674 seconds ahead of Khun Supachai and had clung onto the back of the chasing group, capitalising as several other runners fell back.

The two Singha-Cosmo drivers were next up in sixth and seventh places, Khun Kittipol finishing 3.860 seconds off Khun Supachai while Khun Thamrong was nearly 20 seconds back on his teammate as he successfully nursed his damaged front left tyre to the checkered flag. "After one corner the tyre was shaking," he explained as he examined the badly tyre afterwards.

"I didn’t know it was so bad," he added with a laugh. In truth he was quite lucky to reach the finishline as the tyre had a big chunk of rubber missing from the inside edge. "But I knew if I wanted to finish the race I have to slow down, so from lap 4 or 5 all my times dropped."

His teammate had struggled with a worsening clutch problem during the later stages of the race and that cost him valuable time; however Khun Kittipol was also happy to see the checkered flag and he explained his hectic race afterwards. "The cars in front, the Toyota and [Khun] Munkong had problems starting so I think I was up to fourth," recalled Khun Kittipol. Then [Khun Pitsanu] came back up and I was fifth and then I was following [Khun Munkong] and [Khun Supachai] was behind and I couldn’t get him to let go.

"Then three laps before the end my clutch let go so when I braked and changed down the tyre would lock and so I made a mistake on the last lap, went to second and the gear came out and [Khun Supachai] managed to overtake me so I missed out on fifth position which meant I would have been on pole [for Race 2]."

However it was a strong race for Khun Kittipol, more so as both Singha-Cosmo drivers had been on the back foot having missed all the practice sessions due to business commitments and in fact they were only strapped in their respective cockpits just in time for the qualifying session. With a new car under him featuring some close season updates, including a new gearbox, Khun Kittipol simply didn’t have any time at all to bed the car in.

Eighth overall - and first in Class 2 - came the factory Toyota Altis of Khun Arthit Ruengsomboon. The Toyota One Make champion was unlapped and for his first race in the Altis, as well as the first ever race for the brand new Toyota sedan, it was a pleasing performance and sets him up well to chase Class 2 honours.

The final classified runners were Khun Paritat Bulbon in the turbodiesel-powered Speed Buster-Ducati Chiang Mai VW Golf Mk V, he was ninth overall and sixth in Class B, and Khun Manat in the factory 86, who eventually finished one lap down.

As well as Khun Hong, who dropped out on lap five in the Super 2000 ‘Class 1’ Altis, the retirements’ list was completed by Khun Wijak Lertprasetpakorn (TBN MK I HERE Racing Team Civic FD), who parked up at Turn 2 on lap 3, and finally Khun Kantadhee Kusiri.

Much had been made of the latter driver’s Super 2000 debut in the Singha XO Team Eakie-entered Toyota Altezza and he was expected to emerge as one of the biggest challengers to the established front-runners; however it turned into a tough debut race for the highly rated youngster. Engine problems during qualifying had left him without a time to his name and thus starting at the back of the grid.

And those engine issues reared their head again as the race kicked off and he became the first retirement. The team would be forced to change his engine overnight for a spare, but much less powerful until, to get him back onto the grid for Race 2.

Super 1500 - Saturday

Khun Weerasak had been regarded as the pre-race favourite for overall honours - and he didn’t disappoint, powering the eye-catching green #77 TTS Racing Civic to a comfortable 24.407 second victory. That was despite starting third on the Super 1500 grid - and in fact he would have extra traffic to deal from the start as, thanks to the combined Super 1500 and Super Production runners, he actually started from row four.

As well as nabbing overall victory, Khun Weerasak also won Class B and set the fastest lap in 2:42.590 (122.731 km/h). He was helped by the fact that Super 1500 pole sitter, Khun Sorasak Saeng-Xuto, ended up bedded in the gravel trap after just one lap with the #18 Singha XO Team Eakie Civic (which won the title last year in the hands of Khun Kantadhee Kusiri who has graduated to Super 2000) looking much the worse for wear and extensive front end damage would leave the team with a lot of work to do to get the orange and white car into enough shape to be on the grid for Race 2.

From pole on the Super 1500 grid, Khun Tony Percy would slip backwards with a misfire on his #99 Toyota Vios, but he battled hard and still came home third overall (and second in Class B), 6.232 seconds behind his teammate, Khun Ray McDonald, who also won Class C in his brand new build Civic.

The final classified Super 1500 runner was Khun Vutha Jaisamran in the #112 Race Factory Racing Team Civic; the red and black car was also second in Class C.

Super Production - Saturday

Khun Pasarit started from Super Production pole position, but he would slip back quickly as he struggled with tyre wear in the #69 RMI Racing by Sunoco Honda Jazz. Instead it was the reigning champion, Khun Kajornsak, who got his title defence off to a perfect start with a closely fought win over Khun Thanapol Pruttipong.

The gap between the #4 Ford Fiesta and the #23 Honda Jazz was just 0.381 seconds when the checkered flag was waved. The former driver also won Class A while the hard chasing youngster, in his recently overhauled and upgraded former 'One Make Race' Jazz, claimed Class B honours as well as posting the fastest lap of the race in 2:44.143.

However Khun Pasarit hung on to take third overall as well as second in Class B, although he was nearly twenty seconds down the road by the time the flag waved after 10 laps and almost half an hour of racing. "We overestimated the tyre performance," he explained afterwards. "We used [our] tyres from the qualify section for the first race [and] we had issues with [the] tyres after a few laps."

In fact Khun Pasarit had his hands full as the race drew to a close as Khun Passakorn Yamgathom filled his mirrors with the blue #8 Endless Thailand-Singha-Total-Bira Kart Honda City; the gap was just 0.463 seconds at the line. Khun Passakorn however claimed Class C honours and had a healthy ten seconds in hand over the second best placed Class C runner, Khun Chairat Luanglai in the #91 Toyota Yaris. Third in Class C went to the Singha XO Team Eakie Jazz of Khun Witawin Sondthiraksa.

The final classified runners comprised of Khun Paul Kenny (City), who took fourth in Class C, Khun Sirisak Manthugumphol (Jazz), third in Class B, and newcomer Khun Raris Yoovidhya (Jazz) who claimed fifth in Class C but had to struggled to nurse his damaged car to the finishline after being hit by another competitor on the opening lap.

Standing out amongst the DNFs were the two Parker Innovation Motorsport-entered Mazda2 racecars of Khun Pete Thongchua and Khun Michael Freeman. It was the first trip to Sepang for the factory-supported team and the mechanics would have a lot of work to do after both cars ended up taking to the rough stuff.

While Khun Michael’s #55 ‘sedan’ version would require a relatively straightforward hoover out his teammate’s ‘hatchback’ suffered plenty of front-end damage. That all came on top of and engine problem for the #55 car in practice while the team were also busy looking for pace as they got to grips with the Sepang layout for the first time.

Also out of the race just before mid-distance was the #7 TW Pro Racing Toyota Vios of Khun Andrey Snetkov. His flywheel disintegrated on lap 4, as he explained afterwards. "The start for us was pretty good and due to some crashes on the road we came up to third position, and there was a pretty big gap between me and the next car and also a pretty big gap between me and the car which was following me," explained the Russian driver.

"So I was just driving peacefully, not pushing too much but unfortunately on the fifth lap the flywheel collapsed and damaged everything on the inside so unfortunately we didn’t finish the race," he added. It left the grey TEZ Tour-sponsored Vios with a gaping hole in the middle of the engine and, with some block damage as well, the team would have to do their best to patch the car up in time for Race 2. Unusually, the radiator was damaged in the opposite manner to a normal racing car accident as parts of the shattering flywheel had smashed their way outwards.

The DNF list was wrapped up by Khun Thanasit Bhunyatharanonth in the #39 ATP Motorsport Jazz who completed 6 laps, Khun Nattachak Hanjitkasem in the #66 TBN I HERE Racing Team Vios, out after 5 laps, and finally the two Billionaire Boy Racing Vios’ of Khun Anusorn Asiralertsiri (5 laps completed) and Khun Rungravi Thirakon (2 laps completed), the latter driver suffering a broken driveshaft after the team had worked around the clock to obtain a new engine following practice dramas that saw her forced to sit out qualifying.

Super 2000 - Sunday

Sunday’s race was a carbon copy of the previous day’s encounter in terms of the victor as Khun Tin made it two wins out of two with another commanding performance from the green lights to checkered flag. Despite starting from fifth thanks to the reverse grid, Khun Tin used all the power of the BMW at the rolling start and it was all over by Turn 1. From there the youngster settled into a fast and consistent rhythm and was undisturbed as he powered his way to the flag.

This time though there were no problems for Khun Pitsanu and he claimed the runners up spot to add to his P3 in Race 1. However the Civic FD driver was ten seconds back from the BMW at the finish and in truth this was as much as he could do as he simply couldn’t get anywhere on terms with the superior car in front. Khun Pitsanu though comfortably won Class B with eight seconds in hand over Khun Kittipol who had a fault free race on his way to third, as well as second in Class B.

In fact from the green lights Khun Tin had already hauled out five car lengths by Turn 1, the young driver reveling in the superior starting capability of the rear wheel drive machine. Power was the key as although the dayglo DC5 of Khun Supachai and the orange, white and black Civic FD of Khun Munkong had started from the front row, several hundred metres away as the field braked for T1 normal service had been restored. Of note also was the start from Khun Kittipol who found empty space on the outside of the track and powered his way up to the first corner.

Khun Pitsanu chased Khun Tin into T1 with another fast starter, Khun Manat, slotting into P3, the Toyota driver then chased by a Honda ‘train’. However one of the stars of Race 1, Khun Jakthong, was already in trouble on the opening lap with a radiator leak and he would be forced to try to combat rising water temperatures and manage his Altis all the way to the finish.

A lap later Khun Pitsanu had opened up a small gap to the Toyota driver behind while the Singha-Cosmo drivers, Khun Kittipol and Khun Thamrong, were on Khun Manat’s heels.

On lap 5 Khun Manat slipped back as he continued to suffer handling problems that were then compounded by hitting a patch of oil at Turn 7. Khun Thamrong and Khun Munkong also lost time on the oil but it was the Toyota 86 driver who fared worst.

Meanwhile on the same lap but someway further back, Khun Kantadhee struggled to maintain drivetrain power in the Altis and he pulled off at T1, but then recovered and returned to the track - it was a moment though that would cost him 20 seconds and it dropped the youngster well away from the main action. Khun Thamrong, Khun Kittipol and Khun Jakthong battled for P3, but the former would soon drop back.

It then started to drizzle but the drops didn’t affect the action or slow the pace. Khun Jakthong pitted with his overheating Altis, while the top five - Khun Tin, Khun Pitsanu, Khun Kittipol, Khun Manat and Khun Thamrong started to spread out.

That would be it to the end of the race as Khun Tin made it two easy wins, Khun Pitsanu was second and Khun Kittipol bagged third, the Singha-Cosmo driver successfully fending off the late race attentions of Khun Manat who crossed the line just 1.777 seconds behind the red, white and black Civic FD.

For Khun Tin is was a perfect weekend - two poles and two wins in the PTT Research and Technology Institute-Singha BMW E90 positions him superbly to defend his title. Everything ran perfectly during both races, as he explained afterwards. "The car is very good and my team have a lot of experience here so it is very good," he said. "The engine is better than last year [as we] we send [it] to be rebuilt in England so this year it’s very fresh."

Khun Tin also admitted that he had enjoyed an easier time of it on this track than was the case a year ago when he was harried all the way to double Super 2000 wins by the Honda of Khun Kantasak Kusiri; his rival has now graduated to Super Car Class 2-GTM. "Because Mr. Kantasak goes to Super Car it’s easier than last year a lot," he said. However, this is a driver-car combination that has come on a long way over the last year, Khun Tin is looking more polished in every area. A promising young driver is coming of age and it seems unlikely at the moment that anyone is going to challenge him in the championship points’ classification.

Following up his P3 in Race 1, Khun Pitsanu went one better one place in Sunday’s encounter. "Today went very well, but [I had] not a good start from the beginning, but [I] recovered the place because the other competitor missed the corner so I can overtake him. So I can keep the same position but I couldn’t keep up with the BMW."

However, while Khun Pitsanu swept to Class B victory, there was simply no chance his Civic FD could offer any resistance to Khun Tin’s BMW around this fast-flowing high-speed circuit which suited the German car’s race-bred characteristics perfectly. Now Khun Pitsanu reckons that the tighter, trickier and narrower confines of historic Bira Circuit in July may help him - and he’s not giving up. "Maybe next time in Bira Circuit [the] layout will help me with the car," he notes.

Behind Khun Kittipol, Khun Manat survived an incident on lap 5 when he hit a patch of oil while he struggled with the Toyota’s on and off handling issues. "There was oil on the track on a double corner," he noted. "So I have to drive the same style and then I oversteer more and more. Then oversteer again, so I lost one position." It didn’t end there for the factory driver. "Then I have a problem with the gears; the shift down isn’t shifting down. So when the gear is okay I push more and get back one position."

Nearly 20 seconds behind his team mate Khun Kittipol, Khun Thamrong nevertheless made it an excellent 3-5 overall finish for the Singha-Cosmo team and an even better 2-3 result in Class B. Added to a fourth and fifth in class in Race 1 when both drivers had struggled to nurse mechanical and tyre issues to the checkered flag, respectively, it was a very impressive weekend for a duo who have come a long way in a relatively short period of time.

Pleased with how Race 2 - and the overall weekend - had turned out, Khun Kittipol explained the Singha-Cosmo team’s race. "I started sixth, [Khun Thamrong] seventh," he said. "After a poor start, I was down in eighth while my team mate was seventh after the first corner. We both got past [Khun Supachai] after Turn 6 and going round the last corner on the first lap onto the start finish straight [Khun Thamrong] and I were neck and neck. We both got past [Khun] Jakthong and [Khun Munkong] after Turn 2 of lap two, but [Khun] Jakthong overtook me back in Turn 14 onto the back straight."

Once again the red, white and black Singha-Cosmo cars were embroiled in the main battling action of the Super 2000 races. "[Khun Thamrong], [Khun Jakthong] and I were three abreast crossing the start line into the third lap. [Khun Jakthong] went wide in Turn 1 and [Khun Thamrong] got past into fourth place. [Khun Jakthong] went wide trying to overtake [Khun Thamrong] in Turn 7, before the double apex, so I managed to past him into fifth place.

"Then on the last corner of lap 3, I went on the outside of [Khun Thamrong] and we, again, were side by side crossing the start-finish line into the fourth lap," continued Khun Kittipol. "I was on the inside going into Turn 1 so was able to pass him into fourth place. Then on lap 5 at Turn 7, there was oil on track and both [Khun Pitsanu] and [Khun] Manat and I went off the track. [Khun] Manat lost a lot of momentum enabling me to overtake him on the inside of Turn 9. I held my third position until the end of the race. As for [Khun Thamrong] he still had a fight on his hands with [Khun Jakthong] and by the time he got away [Khun] Manat was too far [in front] to catch."

Sixth place for Khun Munkong made it another strong finish for the Sittipon Lipo K45 Siriboon Power Civic FD. Next up, Khun Wijak saw the checkered flag for the first time during the weekend to snap up seventh place, fending off Khun Kantadhee by just 1.146 seconds. For the highly rated youngster it was a really tough weekend as he had struggled with engine issues from the moment he took to the Malaysian racetrack in the Altezza.

After trouble with his engine in qualifying and Race 1 the team had swapped to a spare unit for Race 2; however this was a standard engine and down on power so he could do very little but circulate and scoop up a few points. For the fans they missed out on seeing just what mark Khun Kantadhee can make in Super 2000. However they shouldn’t have too long to wait, that should be more than adequately answered during the next round in Bira.

The final runners comprised of Khun Arthit Ruengsomboon, who had another steady run to win Class 2, while Khun Paritat wrapped up the top 10 and the running order.

The latter driver struggled to reach a decent race pace as his new KW suspension didn’t arrive in time and he was instead left to use his somewhat damaged ACT suspension. However, with a right front puncture got out of way in practice, Khun Paritat nevertheless hauled the Golf, now sporting a distinctive green rear end, to two comfortable top-10 finishes to bag race points.

After his heroics in Race 1, Khun Jakthong wasn’t able to make it a double podium, he struggled with rising temperatures right from the first lap and after a mid race pit visit he dropped out on the last lap and wasn’t classified. "The radiator [was] leaking [on] the first lap and engine temperature was 100 degrees C," he explained afterwards. "The car can't run well [and I just] just try to finish, but [on the] last lap the engine temp [reached] 140 [and] it can't run."

Khun Chen in Toyota Team Thailand’s new-build Altis made it a double DNF for the debuting car, he was gone from the action on lap 4, while Khun Supachai couldn’t match his Race 1 podium finish and retired the 'luminous' DC5 on lap 4.

Super 1500 - Sunday

Khun Weerasak made it two wins out of two with another comfortable run to the checkered flag in the final Super 1500 encounter. He had forty seconds in hand over Khun Ray who claimed the runner up spot, the actor-driver also winning Class C for the second consecutive day. Khun Weerasak also set the fastest lap of the race in 2:43.045.

Khun Vutha brought the #112 Civic home for second in Class C while third in the class went to Khun Sorasak. After his early accident the day before his team had done their best to patch up the car, but there were problems they couldn’t overcome and the suspension mounting points and top damper mount remained dislocated, while the engine also suffered a misfire.

However Khun Sorasak was able to successfully circulate in the tardy car, keep out of the way of faster runners and pick up the helping of points on offer for third in Class C and fourth overall, although he was well over two and a half minutes behind the winner.

After a race against time to get his Vios to Sepang - the engine only arrived the day before the cars were shipped south meaning he couldn’t test before arriving in Malaysia and with the new unit giving up 20 hp to his rivals, the weekend had offered decent rewards for Khun Tony and, despite a misfire, he was second in Class B in Race 1. However his luck would run out during Race 2 as the misfire led to a dramatic engine bay fire on the penultimate lap.

In fact, the top-five reverse grid had given The Pizza Company’s two cars a front row lockout. After fluffing his Race 1 start Khun Tony was determined to get it right this time, despite his car being a long way from perfect. "With never having started the Vios from a standing start before in Race 1, I made a real mess of the start with not applying sufficient revs and the engine bogged down, losing me two places," he explained. "For this second race and with starting from pole I was determined not to make the same mistake. The start for Race 2 was more or less perfect and I took off, leading in to the first few corners with a 20 metre advantage.

"It didn't take [Khun Weerasak] long in his Honda on the back straight of lap 1 to power past as I was giving away some 25 horse power [at the] wheels, [this] being the difference between my Toyota engine and his Honda power unit [while] having the misfire was also a real disadvantage at this stage," he continued.

However Khun Tony bedded into a comfortable P2, dropping into ‘no mans land’ with no one close in front or behind and so started to look to manage the wheezing Vios to the finishline. "I had just settled down to short shift and attempt to save the engine to try to get to the end of the race when at the start of lap 9 when entering Turn 1 the engine decided it had had enough and went up in a spectacular fireball," he explained. "I headed straight for the nearest marshals post and bailed out whilst the marshals did a really good job in extinguishing the fire quickly.

"It would appear the misfire had been caused by a leaking fuel line and pulling an amount of air causing the misfire," he continued. "The leak got progressively worse and when the engine exploded, the fuel line parted and sprayed fuel around the engine compartment and beneath the car itself."

Super Production - Sunday

After his tyre issues the previous day, Khun Pasarit had no hiccups in the second and final race of the weekend - he was in sensational form, storming to a 17.535 second victory over Khun Kajornsak and in fact, with the Super 1500 and Super Production programme running together, he beat everyone to the flag and had almost thirteen seconds in hand over the Super 1500 Civic of Khun Weerasak.

"I am quite happy with the result," Khun Pasarit said afterwards. "The car was great [and] new suspension settings have improved cornering performance a lot." So can this driver, who is better known to motorsport fans for being one of the top domestic drift stars, mount a serious challenge for the title? "For this year we are trying our best," he says. "Hopefully, we get a title this year."

Khun Pasarit also posted the fastest lap of the race in 2:41.791, which was quicker than everyone else could manage, including the gaggle of Super 1500 cars. The second fastest lap actually went to Khun Thanasit in 2:42.022, but he would end up amongst the DNFs.

Second overall went to Khun Kajornsak, who also claimed Class A honours, while making it the same three drivers in the top-three for both races, albeit in a different finishing order, was Khun Thanapol. He bagged second place in Class B and was a further 10 seconds behind the Fiesta driver as the top finishing trio spread out by more than half a minute over the closing laps. It rounded out a very strong weekend for the young driver and he was happy with the results and his upgraded car. "[It] was a good experienced to get trophies in Sepang," said Khun Thanapol.

After a really tough opening race when neither car had made it past half distance and in fact a tough week all round as the Mazda2s had lacked some speed to start with, a lot of hard work by the team saw them bounce back superbly in Race 2 and, having started from the tail end of the grid thanks to their double DNF in Race 1, the Parker Innovation Motorsport cars looked amongst the quickest and best balanced on the track in Sunday’s race. That gave Khun Pete and Khun Michael the impetus to fight up the order and P5 and P6 was a very well deserved reward for all this team’s efforts.

Khun Michael explained how the team had made changes to their plans for Race 2. "After ending up in the sand pit at half distance in race one after fighting up from ninth to third in our class which would have been a good result, considering how down on power we are, a new strategy was formed for Race 2," explained the Australian driver.

"The new strategy was [to] pace myself over the 10 laps and not try to win in every corner," he continued. "We started fifteenth and ended fifth outright with our sister car finishing fourth, so a much better result."

He also believes that the little Mazdas, although lacking in top end grunt, clearly enjoy attributes that the drivers can exploit to their advantage - despite the long sweeping power demanding layout of Sepang Circuit. "We relied on the strengths of the Mazda2 which are great handling and brakes," noted Khun Michael. "We weren’t going to find the 15 hp we need on Saturday night so the aim was [to] pass one car per lap and we achieved that."

With the job satisfactorily done on Parker-Innovation Motorsport’s first trip to Sepang, Khun Michael’s already looking forward to the next TSS round in just under two month’s time. "We will now move onto Bira which suits the Mazda2 far better."

Next up was Khun Anusorn, he also bounced back after retiring in the first race and P7 was also good enough to win Class C. Saturday’s Class C winner, Khun Passakorn, had to settle for second place this time, just over 4 seconds off the winner while Khun Witawin made it a strong double third slot for the weekend in Class B; he was a further 3 seconds down the road.

Khun Raris improved on his Class C P5 the day before with P4 in Race 2 while Khun Andrey in his patched-up Vios occupied the final Class C podium step. The remaining finishers were Khun Sirisak, Khun Paul and Khun Nattachak.

There were three retirements during the race, Khun Thanasit had little reward to show for the long trip south although he very looked competitive all weekend in the canary-yellow Jazz; he retired on the penultimate lap. Khun Rungravi also suffered her second DNF of the weekend, a huge effort by her team to get her into the races coming to nothing after she suffered driveshaft problems and dropped out on lap 7. The final DNF went to Khun Chairat who stopped at mid distance.

PaddockTalk Perspective



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