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Jul 02, 2014 - 06:58 AM
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Latest News From Thailand Super Series
Posted by: newsla on Jul 02, 2014 - 06:57 AM
Sports Cars
Latest News From Thailand Super Series


It's a big claim to make, but that’s what many people are already calling it: The biggest clash in the history of Thai motorsport. Tomáš vs Vutthikorn. The paddock has recently been dredging its memories to recall just when such an explosive battle happened at the very top.

 

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In one corner is Khun Tomáš Enge, an ex-F1 driver who has a first, second, third and three fourths in GT at the Le Mans 24 Hours in a star studded career and is acknowledged as one of the world’s top sportscar stars today. In the other corner is Khun Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Thailand’s leading driver the last decade; he's head and shoulders above the opposition. He’s won everything there is to win. He’s cool, crafty, intelligent and inch-perfect. And Bira is his turf.

But it doesn’t stop there, that’s just one story of many and Super Car Class 2-GTM is set to be just as explosive as its big brother this weekend as a string of driver-car combinations pitch to win. Meanwhile, after a quiet start in Sepang, Super 2000 is going to really crank up the gears as several top names pile into the action while Bira Circuit will hopefully add an extra leveling element. In fact right across the TSS programme, close fought action will unfold over the next five days.

Closing up the gap in Super Car Class 1-GT3

After ‘Round 1’ of the prizefight in Sepang it’s a points draw - each driver has 1 win and 1 second place to his name. So it’s a dead heat coming to Bira. And each driver will square up to each other in totally different styles of racecar: Camaro vs Porsche.

Both drivers, Khun Vutthikorn and Khun Tomáš, will also be lugging 70 kg of ballast on Saturday afternoon - so does that open the door to their rivals? Third in the points’ standings is Khun Chonsawat Asavahame, thanks to a pair of fourth places in Sepang. That’s helped Vattana Motorsport to sit equal to Singha Porsche AAS in the Teams’ championship standings and both have 95 points. So - literally - everything was a dead heat in Sepang.

The highly experienced Khun Chonsawat knows Bira Circuit very well, he took a very popular win here last year and should have a brand new Gallardo at his disposal this weekend, so expect him to be pushing hard - very hard.

While still with the Lamborghini Challenge - Khun Bobby Buncharoen made a big step forward in Sepang with his best qualifying and race result in the Gallardo so far, taking a comfortable third place in the first race. He will be looking to build further on that form while Khun Sanchai Engtrakul, who made his racing comeback at the Malaysian event, will be looking to get closer to the pace now that the cobwebs have been blown off. The latest version of the Gallardo, dubbed the 'FL2', looks to be in great shape this weekend as Khun Tomáš banged in sub 1-minute laps as he shookdown the Vattana Motorsport entries yesterday. And in a big boost for the fans, Khun Sak Nana is back and this year he’s driving a Porsche 997 GT3-R.

The big beast has already stated its intent

The Chevrolet Camaro GT3 has shown real pace and a clear affinity with the track at Bira over the last two days of pre-race testing. However, that merely reinforces a recent uptick in the big car’s form - which has taken it from knocking on the top-ten to front-runner in what is regarded by many as one of the toughest sportscar series in the world, ADAC GT Masters.

While that series is far away, playing out in fact on a different continent, Europe, those recent results in Germany and Austria for the Camaro are actually very significant to the two Super Car races set to take place in Pattaya this weekend.

This highly ambitious new racecar project has certainly been a bit of a ‘slow burner’ for Reiter Engineering, but the more recently accelerating development cycle is now paying off and in the highly competitive ADAC GT Masters support race at the Austrian F1 Grand Prix a week and a half ago, Khun Tomas planted the SaReNi Reiter Camaro on the front row - to the surprise of many - and raced to second place in the first race before leading the second race up to a problem during the pitstop window.

Khun Tomas was in his ‘office’ here early this week, Monday morning to be precise, firstly giving a shakedown to the two Lamborghini Gallardos of Khun Chonsawat Asavahame and Khun Sanchai Engtrakul. The ‘Reiter Engineering Official Test Driver’ has a busy week. Then it was the turn of the beast.

So in terms of its recent international results the muscle car is hitting front running form. "We are progressing with the [Camaro] since last year," Khun Tomáš reflected in the Vattana garage as the Camaro was readied on Monday afternoon for its first runs at Bira Circuit. "But now let’s say over the last two ADAC GT Masters races we progressed quite a lot with the details and the fine tuning of the setup.

"We’ve got everything together now and are able to capitalise on the information we have got throughout the period of a year and now we are starting to take the fruits," continued Khun Tomáš, who emphasises that the car has real promise - it’s just now that the hard work is finally paying off. "We’re starting to gets some good results, which happened in the last race in the Red Bull Ring but also in the previous race at the Lausitzring where we were P10 and P8, so really good results."

So certainly the Camaro now has top form to its name, proof it can be a winner, and that was a clear boost to the Vattana Motorsport mechanics as they prepared to unleash it onto Bira Circuit for the first time once the engineers had changed the setup from ‘Sepang’ to ‘Bira’.

And what a start they made. On late on Monday afternoon a small footnote was added to the history of Thai motorsport in general as well as TSS and Bira Circuit as the big muscular machine nosed out of the garage, cleared its throat and growled out into the track. Just after 1730 as the shadows were lengthening, the blistering temperatures easing and the clock relentlessly ticking towards the end of practice for the day, it was time to see if the Camaro could deliver.

So would the huge ‘monster’, which had been comfortable on the ultra fast high speed straights and curves of Sepang for TSS Race 1 & 2 in May - as well more recently in the somewhat similar high speed characteristics of Austria’s Red Bull Ring, cope with the tight, cramped, twisty, bumpy and short confines of Bira Circuit? No problem - as it turned out.

Khun Tomas turned in three installation laps before returning in to the pitlane for a few tweaks. The car, lugging the full 70 kg of extra ballast it will carry this weekend, looked very quick on the main straight and it glided over the battered kerbs edging S1 and S2 - but it certainly looked a bit of a handful, with the Czech busily correcting the car, on the exits of the double apex. It also sounded like nothing else as its huge rumble shattered the late Wednesday afternoon calm.

He then banged in a 10 lap run. And in just over 10 minutes the Camaro answered any lingering questions as to its suitability here as Khun Tomáš whacked in fast times, dipping below the 1-minute barrier with a psychologically shattering 59.9-second lap.

For Vattana Motorsport it was a real early shot in the arm, the crew was upbeat - and so was the driver. "Before this race it looked like with the ballast we would be affected so much, but we aren’t affected as much with this car as we thought," said Khun Tomáš, a driver who really lives and breathes to get behind the wheel. "So I’m looking forward to the whole week."

In fact such was his confidence in the car, Khun Tomáš reckoned they were almost good to go. "I think we will not change too much, the balance of the car was very good in high speed and slow speed corners and it’s really comfortable over the bumps, which is really good for this track as it’s very bumpy and there are two fast chicanes with high kerbs and the car is really taking those chicanes very well," he continued.

"So far I’m really happy, I’m surprised with the performance," Khun Tomáš concluded. There may well be weak points though - and tyres are at the top of the list. Clearly tyre wear is going to be a factor for the Camaro, and it’s one that could well play into Khun Vutthikorn’s hands. Throughout testing yesterday, the second day here, the Camaro was putting longer runs than anyone else as the team gathered data on the car around Bira in the oppressive heat. Ominously, laptimes continued to be very fast and consistent.

Superstar with a new Super Car

Yesterday another new state-of-the-art GT3 car joined the TSS mix. Thai drift and circuit racing legend, Khun ‘Kiki’ Sak Nana, roared into the track action behind the wheel of a brand new Porsche 997 GT3-R. The car has been built especially for him; it’s the final-final GT3-R off the line, after the last two ‘final’ GT3-Rs were also built for leading Thai drivers.

Last year this superstar driver had a tough year by his own high standards. Driving a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3, although he promised much, the results simply didn’t arrive. For this season Khun Kiki’s back with a bang, driving a car that currently defines Super Car Class 1-GT3, Porsche’s 997 stunning GT3-R.

He’s also got a very strong package around him, from car to personnel, as Team Manager Khun Jeff - himself one of the strong links in that chain - explained yesterday as the new machine was fettled for its first ever runs. "Khun Kiki’s car is built to the regulations of the FIA for 2014 so it’s a zero mileage racecar, it’s brand new as you can see from the exhaust," he noted. "So we have Martin [Ragginger] the racer from Porsche to come in and test drive and set up the car and we have Sven [Schnabel] to look after the car as the Head Race Engineer to set up suspension and everything."

While Khun Sven isn’t a new face to the TSS paddock - Khun Martin certainly is. He’s a leading Porsche driver; the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia runner-up, he also won his class in the Dubai 24 Hours last year. In fact he’s raced GT3-class Porsches just about everywhere.

The connection was made a couple of weeks ago at the Nürburgring 24 Hours where both drivers were competing. "Kiki contacted us at the Nürburgring race and he’s got the new Porsche GT3-R," Khun Martin explained yesterday. "So of course I have driven this car for a long time now so I try to help Kiki as much as possible."

Khun Martin admitted he was pretty impressed by just how quickly Khun Kiki had got to grips with his new machine. "From the beginning [of today] I was very surprised about his driving and in the future there is a lot more coming along from him," he said.

The Porsche driver’s job this week is two fold, to help Khun Kiki get up to speed with his new 997 GT3-R and to get the car as best suited to its new driver and new track. So Khun Martin took to Bira Circuit for the first time ever yesterday afternoon, thus becoming yet another top international name to be seen in TSS testing action.

"We just needed a reference lap which we can start working on," he explained. "To reference simple things, like where are you losing the most time, where can you improve, braking, acceleration and I think this is a very small track but it’s very technical so it will help him a lot. I think if we do a good job for the next two days he will be well prepared for the race."

The driver himself was happy with his first runs in the car, in fact with a brand new, zero-km machine that he’s never driven before, Khun Kiki was fast on his first installation laps and continued to post quick times, that will put him in the Super Car Class 1-GT3 hunt this weekend, every time he got in the car.

"The car is great, the team [has] setup the car great," he said. "I’ve never driven this car before. I’ve driven [GT3] cars, the Lamborghini [Gallardo] before in TSS and I drove the [Mercedes-Benz AMG] SLS and [BMW] Z4, not in Thailand but in Germany."

He was particular happy with the characteristics of the GT3-R. "I really like the feeling of the Porsche, the car forgives a little bit" he said. "The car wants to be a friend to you, not like when you do something wrong, not like it slaps your head, that’s a good thing about the car," he added with a laugh.

Khun Kiki admits he has a lot to do over the next few days. "I think there’s still a lot for me to learn," he said. "Martin is a very good instructor, helping me, talking to me, the good thing is Martin was a top Porsche driver so he knows the car well." One of the most popular drivers with fans from motorsport and non-motorsport backgrounds, Khun Kiki has a dramatic new challenge, a new racecar and an experienced team around him. It’s a very strong all-round combination and so expect Khun Kiki to deliver on the promise as the season progresses.

Many potential winners

Super Car’s Class 2-GTM has so many evenly matched drivers and racecars that it’s pretty hard to plump for potential winners this weekend. After just one round so far this year the category has proved that it has real strength in depth. And that list of potential winners is going to get even bigger over the next four days.

The closest driver to Khun Voravud in Sepang was Khun Craig Corliss in the Holden Commodore. Starting his second season with the big Australian V8 machine he's now got to grips with the car and is getting the best out of it. He took the challenge to the Ferrari and claimed two runners up spots; in fact it could so easily have been a win in race two. He knows Bira like the back of his hand and, despite the size and weight, his powerful V8s have always gone well here.

However the two front runners in Sepang will both be carrying extra ballast this weekend and that could dent their challenge for victory while many more drivers that didn't show up during the opener are expected to hit form this weekend.

After throttling all opposition in Class 2-GTM last year with six wins from eight races, Toyota Team Thailand saw its Drivers’ and Teams’ title defence getting off to a tricky start in Sepang in May. Just one point from Race 1 wasn’t the start to the new season the OEM wanted, however its two star drivers bounced back to record a 3-4 finish in Race 2. It does though leave team leader Khun Nattavude Charoensukhawatana 27 points off the top, albeit a handy fourth in the standings. In the Teams’ standings Toyota is third, 25 points off the top, and so the Japanese brand will be targeting a strong coming weekend to get their title ambitions back on track.

Look out too for the Audi R8 LMS Cup of Khun Henk Kiks. He had a somewhat hurried debut in Sepang and a tap from behind put him out of Race 2 early. Rapidly expanding and highly ambitious, B-Quik Racing is now much more familiar with the car and the Dutchman should be good for the podium.

The Porsche 997 GT3 Cup runners went missing in action in Sepang but Bira should suit the German car much better and there are several quick names to look out for. Khun Aekarat Discharoen is always fast and solid and he bagged a pair of podiums in Malaysia. Expect to see him on the podium again. Khun Thomas Raldorf took over the B-Quik Racing 997 in Sepang but agonisingly his weekend was abruptly cut short when the engine blew during qualifying. He gets another shot in the yellow and black car this weekend and knows Bira well having won here in Super Car previously.

Also worth keeping an eye on is Khun Sarun Sereethoranakul who is stepping up to circuit racing after a long drifting career. He brought a lot of that trademark 'drift style' to Sepang but clearly showed he has pace and three days recently when he was tutored here by Japanese professional driver Khun Keita Sawa has helped - the white 997 should certainly show progress this weekend and he will be hopeful of nabbing a podium step.

The final Porsche is the #34 machine of Khun Kantasak Kusiri. Big things are expected from this youngster in the future and while he didn't electrify the order in Sepang there were plenty of good reasons for that, not least his unfamiliarity with the car as he had no testing opportunities beforehand. Bira can really be regarded as his 'home' and so he should move up the gears this weekend.

There will be a newcomer who has really set the tongues wagging - Khun Narasak Ittiritpong. He's returning to Vattana Motorsport to take over the Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo now vacated by Khun Umar A. Rahman and he has to be added to the list of potential winners. He will carry a big chunk of ballast but despite this Khun Narasak is ultra quick and intelligent and should be able to challenge for victory. Also back will be the Gallardo of Khun Visarut Chotiwitsavaitkul and he should continue to make progress in his new car.

Then there are the Nissan GT-R R35s. This ambitious but raw project was thrust into life in Sepang and easily confounded expectations of unreliability as one of the cars reached the podium in their first race in an impressive fourth place and in fact both cars were around at the finish to score points in both races. With more development work behind them the GT-Rs should be also be quick at Bira even if this track may not suit them quite as well as Sepang. With two fast and proven drivers in Khun Traitanit Chimtawan, who is now equal fourth in the Drivers’ championship standings, and Khun Naoya Yamano, the two rugged ‘Godzilla’ machines will be real wildcards this weekend - especially so if it starts to rain.

Prancing Horse out front

Sepang was all about one driver and one racecar in Super Car’s Class 2-GTM, the ‘Rosso Corsa’ Ferrari 458 Challenge of Khun Voravud Bhirombhakdi. Last year he threatened to breakthrough into the winners’ circle - and to finally do so, twice, in Malaysia at this year’s opener simply couldn’t have been better timed. It now sets him up to make a very serious run on the title.

In the build up to Bira, Khun Voravud reflected on the Sepang race. Was he pleased with the outcome? "Yes, very happy," he said. "I expected myself and the team to be competitive as we have been preparing for the race but I didn't expect to qualify [on] pole and win both races as our Challenge car is not the fastest on the grid."

For Khun Voravud, winning in TSS has much more importance than just the satisfaction a race driver feels. As Vice President of Cavallino Motors Co. Ltd., it’s also about marketing, while he’s quick to make the point that it’s a two-way street, having the Prancing Horse on the grid provides diversity for TSS.

"Being [the] Ferrari importer of Thailand it’s very important to have the Ferrari Challenge represented in Thai motorsport as Ferrari is known as world's most powerful brand and having Ferrari take part also lifts up the series to be on international level," Khun Voravud explains. "Winning is also very important for the Ferrari Challenge car as it’s a Cup car made from [a] road car, with little change, so this creates impact to be on podium and of course winning both races against faster cars is very special."

Khun Voravud admits that the Ferrari 458 Challenge has very limited scope within the rules in terms of development and at Bira this week it’s unchanged from Sepang - what his team, Singha Motorsport Team Thailand, has done though is to build up a support structure in every area to get the best from the car. "As [the] Ferrari [458] Challenge is a Cup car you cannot do anything much on the upgrades, not even mapping the ECU," he says. "What we can do most is to find the right set up for the track, especially going through the S-curves."

With two wins out of two last time out, Khun Voravud will be disadvantaged in terms of carrying extra ballast this weekend - that’s going to make it very difficult for him to win. However the 458 Challenge certainly suited Bira well last season so he will be hoping to carry some of that form forward.

Even so, he’s pretty cautious on his chances and maximising points is likely to be his first task. "Last year was different as I was running lighter than this year and with the two wins, the car was placed with more weight of 95 kg, which will loose half a second already," he notes. "It's going to be very tough to be in front against the fastest cars. However, the team and I will do our best to keep the leading position. Now it's going into the rainy season so we will see how things go."

So is there much more to come from this racecar? "No, this will be the car to use, just the settings of the car and making the car reliable for the future races," he says. "The least we can do is find the right tyres."

They might have taken the Challenge package as far as they can in overall development terms within the framework of the regulations, but expect Singha Motorsport Team Thailand to work very hard get the best out of it in every single area.

Demonstrating just how serious they are about winning come this Saturday and Sunday, the team pitched up in its Bira garage on Monday morning and Khun Voravud was straight out testing in the afternoon. By last night he had wrapped up day two of what is going to be a very busy week.

Teams’ title ambition

Singha A Motorsport AAS UBB Kiwi Racing kicked off the new season in some style in Sepang by sweeping up the Teams’ prizes in both Super Car Class 2-GTM races to put them right at the top of the first points’ standings of the new season.

Speed and consistency is the backbone of Singha A Motorsport AAS UBB Kiwi Racing, this year the team has three drivers proven to be fast, reliable and able to deliver podiums and thus crucial high points scores. Forming the backbone, Khun Craig Corliss (Holden Commodore VE) has once again paired up with Khun Aekarat Discharoen (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup). That’s two experienced Super Car drivers that can deliver the goods; no questions need to be asked there.

Into the team to make up the third of the three permitted entries is Khun Kantasak Kusiri. Thailand’s latest ‘wonderkid’ is certainly able to score points. The youngster was making his Super Car debut in Sepang and bagged points - and as he gets more and more used to the Porsche over the length of the season, so his contribution should continue to increase.

One third of the team was out in testing action a week ago, Khun Aekarat bringing the #11 Porsche to Bira Circuit for a day on track ahead of this weekend’s latest TSS round. He’s quite pleased with how the first two races of the year went, even if he sees that the weight of the ‘Cup’ car being a disadvantage this season.

"I’m happy because our team, everyone tries to do their best in the conditions in Sepang," he said. "I try to do the best in the condition of my car because my car runs too heavy. In round one I try to adjust the suspension and everything because the time is too slow, slower than last year. We have a problem with the weight being heavier than last year."

However while acknowledging that the title will be a tough battle, Khun Aekarat is certainly pleased with how Sepang shook out. "I'm happy to be Teams' champion in races 1 and 2." He’s unsure though if they can carry the momentum on to the end of the year but promises that they will "try to win [the Teams’ title]."

The orange, blue and white #11 Porsche will be unchanged for Bira and Khun Oat is - cautiously - targeting the podium. "[For the car] everything is the same," he said. "[The result] depends on the weight. My car [will] run on more weight than last year so the lap time will be slower than last year. If same conditions [as] at Sepang maybe fourth or fifth [place] … maybe third."

Khun Craig meanwhile is also pleased with the start the team made in Sepang - and it could have actually been even better as the New Zealander almost won Race 2. "I joined up with [Khun Aekarat] last year to compete in the TSS Teams’ championship as I believe we are both steady drivers with reliable cars," Khun Craig said this week. "We thought we would have a good chance at the championship. As it turned out we finished the season strongly and finished second."

Never the most cautious character in the paddock, Khun Craig is pretty upbeat about their chances of nailing the 2014 title. "Bring [it] on, we are both tuned up and ready roar," he says. "Our target is definitely number one on the podium. After Sepang we have two wins [and] hence leading the Teams’ championship."

The New Zealander thinks they can target a decent points haul this week. "The tight and twisty Bira Circuit for Race 3 and 4 will be better suited to [Khun Aekarat’s] car but I will be certainly trying to get podium points to support him," he says. "This track will bring some different cars into contention compared to Sepang."

Heading into his second season driving the Holden, Khun Craig has learnt a lot more about it now and is more and more confident about getting the best out of the former ‘Australian V8’ racecar. Particularly about managing the tyres for the race distance, which is extra important on what is one of the heaviest packages on the Super Car Class 2-GTM grid. "Last year we ran Yokohama supersofts and the tyres struggled at the end of the race," he says. "This year we are running medium compounds so we hope to be very strong in the later laps. I hope to be able to go one better than Sepang with at least one win for the round to keep in touch with the Ferrari."

For the test day Khun Aekarat actually had the perfect ‘test driver’ on hand to work on setup as multiple Super Car champion Khun Vutthikorn was in the next garage and with his Super Car Class 1-GT3 missile out of action with technical gremlins, there was plenty of time for the ‘champ’ to try out the Class 2-GTM #11 997 GT3 Cup.

It’s also a racecar that Khun Vutthikorn knows inside out as he has previously raced the 996-997 GT3 Cup breed a few years ago. The ‘Bangsaen Blue’ 997 GT3 Cup machine now driven by TSS President Sontaya Kunplome in Super Car Class 2-GTM was once his race mount, while he’s also contested the hard-fought Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

"It's just getting the right setup for him, but we can't find it yet," Khun Vutthikorn said after making a number of runs in the #11 car. "I think it's for the main settings, we have to go back and find it." He also reckons there’s a lot of life left in Porsche’s 997 GT3 Cup as a front-runner in Super Car Class 2-GTM. "I think if you get the right setup this car is still doing good," he adds.

Expect explosive action

Then there were two BMWs. In Super 2000 Khun Tin Sritrai had it far too easy in Sepang, but that's all about to change. Khun Jack Lemvard is back after a year away and he’s armed with Vattana Motorsport's new BMW E90 for Race 3 & 4. Khun Jack is one of the fastest drivers of his generation and he relishes a battle.

It means Khun Tin is going to have to work very hard if he wants to retain his spot at the top of the Super 2000 pile. However with Khun Jack having no points to his name it means that Khun Tin needs to keep and eye on the championship classification and maybe drive more conservatively than he would wish to. He can't afford a DNF, which would give his rivals a chance to get back in the title fight.

Also in his favour is the new and unsorted nature of Khun Jack's BMW which means reliability could be an issue. However the Vattana driver should have his old Honda Civic FD on standby and a late decision could well be made to swap cars. Khun Jack, who only flew back to Thailand at the end of last week, had his first runs in the BMW yesterday.

Straight into his trademark flamboyant style, Khun Jack certainly wasn’t slacking, whacking a wheel rim on his first run. It all means the hard bit is still ahead as he has to find more than a second from the car today if he is to be in top shape for qualifying - but he’s enjoying it. "It’s great to be back, I have to thank Khun Chonsawat to have me back in the team and driving again," Khun Jack said.

"It’s the same type of car that Tin’s driving so it should be fun," he continued. "I drove the [BMW] E46 quite a while ago but it’s not much difference being rear wheel drive." With the decision to put Khun Jack in the car made only a few days before he flew back here, fitness could play its part. "I haven’t driven for quite a while so I’m quite rusty, but we just got a few sessions in now and were going to keep trying all through the weekend. It’s great fun, I just have to get used to the heat again as I’ve been in Denmark for so long."

The front wheel drive Honda Civic FD seems to have had its day with the arrival of BMW power; however Khun Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem dug deep in Sepang to be the best of the rest behind Khun Tin and at Bira he should be better able to compensate for the car's deficiencies. He will be looking to mix it up.

And there could be a real spanner in the works. Professional driver Khun Carlo Van Dam is set to drive a Civic FD for Singha Motorsports Team Thailand. The Dutch professional is fresh from racing in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and certainly has to be a good tip for victory. He’s also taking it very seriously, pounding the white, black and gold Singha Motorsport Team Thailand Civic FD around Bira over the last two days as he gets the car to exactly where he wants it to be.

Then there is Khun Kantadhee Kusiri. A highly rated Thai youngster he stepped up to Super 2000 in Sepang but a torrid weekend of engine problems left him unable to show what he can really do with the Team Eakie Toyota Altezza. He will really be at ‘home’ this weekend and looking to make up ground. Khun Kantadhee should be a certainty for the podium positions if the car is on song but exactly how far he can drag the Altezza towards the front-runners remains to be seen. Team Owner Khun Anothai Eamlumnow reported this week that after the engine issues in Sepang they would detune it slightly and that could leave Khun Kantadhee lacking in the power stakes.

Bumper support programme

In Super 1500 the grid will swell up with a number of new cars joining. At the front of the pack in Sepang, Khun Weerasak Homsuwan set the pace and he's aiming hard to keep setting it this weekend. Also quick at Sepang was Khun Tony Percy who has switched to the category from Super 2000, he’s also looking to build on that form.

In Super Production honours were even in Sepang between reigning champion Khun Kajornsak Na Songkhla (Ford Fiesta) and Khun Pasarit Phromsombat (Honda Jazz). Expect another very closely fought battle between these two. The factory supported Mazda2s of Khun Pete Thongchua and Khun Michael Freeman won at Bira last year and while these cars didn’t really suit the power sapping characteristics of Sepang, both drivers are going to fancy their chances this weekend.

Around 25 cars are expected in Super Production and the close-fought nature of this category marks it down as one to keep an eye on. Certainly there are a lot of promising drivers that will be looking to make their mark this weekend and as well as the many newcomers in Class C they include quick youngster Khun Thanapol Pruttipong who is racing his regular Honda Jazz.

Super Eco has enjoyed explosive growth over the last year since it debuted in the TSS programme and the provisional entry list stands at a staggering 33 cars for this race weekend. There are many new faces to look out for as well as new cars. Toyota's Yaris and Kia's Picanto will swell out the ranks which are already stuffed with 'Eco' contenders from Honda, Suzuki and Mitsubishi.

Super Eco is attracting many new faces and it's also proving to be a hit with ambitious lady racers too. Amongst their ranks for the first time will be a top name - Khun Tanchanok Charoensukhawatana. Daughter of famous Toyota factory Super Car driver Khun Nattavude Charoensukhawatana, she starred in the Lotus Cup support race at last year's Macau Grand Prix, making the international paddock sit up and take note. A real fighter with talent, Khun Tanchanok will relish mixing it up with the male drivers as well and expect to find her fighting it out in the top order.

The Super Pickup and Lotus Cup Thailand competitors join the TSS programme this weekend to kick off their respective new seasons after they both skipped the long trip to Sepang. Expect more close action here as both categories have a reputation for door-to-door action.


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