F1, Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, MotoGP, ALMS, And More!
z


Aug 22, 2014 - 06:56 AM
Top News!
Rumors Edition!
Upcoming Racing! (Updated)



Top Stories
· 2014 Belgium GP (Spa): Formula One F1 Practice One Results - Rosberg, Mercedes Fastest! (Aug 22, 2014)
· 2014 Bristol: NASCAR Truck Race Results - Keselowski, Ford Win! (Aug 21, 2014)
· 2014 Milwaukee: IndyCar Race Results - Power, Chevrolet Win! (Aug 17, 2014)
· 2014 Michigan II: NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Results - Gordon, Chevrolet Win! (Aug 17, 2014)
· 2014 Czech Republic GP: MotoGP Race Results - Pedrosa victory ends Marquez winning streak (Aug 17, 2014)

Previous Top Stories!


Hot Rumors!
· F1: Rumours tip Lotterer for Caterham race debut ? (Aug 19, 2014)
· F1: Toro Rosso next team set for 'nose news' ? (Aug 19, 2014)
· F1: Gutierrez in talks with 'other teams' for 2015 ? (Aug 18, 2014)
· F1: Verstappen To Get 2015 Toro Rosso seat ? (Aug 14, 2014)
· F1: Nasr to Sauber seat 'possible' for 2015 ? (Aug 14, 2014)
More Rumors!


Latest News From Thailand Super Series
Posted by: newsla on Aug 22, 2014 - 06:54 AM
Sports Cars
Latest News From Thailand Super Series


One of the biggest positives of the 'New Era' of Thai motorsport has been the real depth and diversity of purpose-built racecars streaming in as drivers seek higher and higher machinery standards in the uncompromising drive to win. Maybe it's actually the biggest of all the positives? It means Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Nissan, Toyota and Audi are amongst the iconic global brand names to be represented in Super Car this year.

 

Bookmark and Share
And now there is yet another new name to contend with - Ginetta. However, while it’s an almost unknown brand here, it ticks the 'diversity' box like perhaps no other. And the Ginetta is now here and counting down to its Thai track debut when TSS arrives in Buriram in two and a half month's time.

It's not just with the racecars that there's growing diversity in TSS; in terms of paddock support many leading drivers and teams are bringing in overseas professionals. And one new driving name in the garages at Bira Circuit last month was Porsche factory pilot Khun Martin Ragginger. The Austrian was drafted in to help Khun Kiki Sak Nana get up to speed with his new Krating Daeng Racing Team Porsche 997 GT3-R.

And another international face. Khun Tod Kaneko is Mazda’s North America-based Advanced Engineering boss - and he also has responsibility for making the brand's racecars go fast enough to win. He was in the paddock at Bira Circuit last month to run his eye over the two factory-supported Mazda2s in Super Production. His presence really signals intent that Mazda are taking their new racing programme in TSS very seriously from an international perspective.

In Class 2-GTM one of the favourite cars with the fans is certainly the aggressive new Nissan GT-R R35. It continues its steep development curve, which is - literally - happening from an almost zero knowledge base. Heat and weight are the two biggest challenges facing the NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand team as they ambitiously target future victories.

Heat is an issue that requires progressive solving, however the inherent heavy weight needs a drastic short-term solution and that's just what's happening now during the long mid year break as at least one of the GT-Rs will be going two-wheel-drive in time for Buriram.

Ginetta arrives in Thailand

The tiny British 'kitcar' brand has a very long racing history and its latest model, the G55, has its own ‘One Make’ series that supports the prestigious British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) while FIA homologated versions run the highly competitive British GT Championship in both the GT3 and GT4 classes.

There is now one example of the G55 in Thailand and it’s broadly built to meet FIA GT4 specifications. It’s another first for TSS - the first ever Ginetta to arrive in Thailand. It's taken a little bit of time to get here too. The owner, TSS regular Khun Oou Naputt, shipped it from the UK to Sepang just in time for the TSS season opener more than a year ago and until very recently it's been stored in Malaysia. Finally though it's made its way to Thailand although Khun Oou was forced to skip the most recent TSS round, held at Bira Circuit last month, as the car couldn’t quite be readied in time.

The G55, which is now bright red, has seen some niggles fixed and has been fully serviced at the Bangjark workshops of Big Dawg Racing (BDR) so it’s all ready to its first track test in Thailand. It will be the first time on track by a Ginetta here - ever.

Ginetta’s G55 is based around an FIA-approved spaceframe chassis and is fitted with a full aero package (front diffuser, rear splitter, big racing rear wing and full length flat floor). Under the bonnet is a 3.7-litre Ford V6 engine mated up to a 6-speed Hewland gearbox, while the brakes are also beefy, at the front there are 6-pot calipers with 4-pots at the back. The safety equipment is all to FIA standard as is the side impact protection. The car sails straight into GT4 regulations (while Ginetta also make a further uprated version for the GT3 class).

To prepare the racecar for competitive action during the second half of the TSS season - its projected Thai debut will be at the brand new Buriram United International Circuit in early November - the engineers at BDR have gone over the car.

BDR’s Khun Vasin Tantibhakdi explains that it’s been a mix of routine racecar maintenance coupled to some specific work that was also required. "Khun Oou got the car from the UK and shipped the car to Sepang and then finally to Thailand and now he’s had the body repainted and some wiring went missing so it won't start," he says. "So he brought the car in to solve the wiring problem and also to make sure every system works and change the clutch and the brake pads and brake discs, routine maintenance to get the car running, nothing too much."

That work has been completed and now the car is ready for its first test runs at Bira Circuit while Khun Vasin reckons the G55 should be an interesting addition to the racing landscape here. "We [have] finished the work already [and] now we're waiting for Khun Oou to pick up the car and have a test run and shake it down," he said. "It will be an economic car to run and fun to drive."

This is the first and only Ginetta in Thailand - and also it’s the only G55 racecar in South East Asia. The brand name is almost unknown here, there are no spare parts available this far outside the UK and there isn’t any knowledge of the car, certainly there are none of the sophisticated supporting computer software programmes that come with most other pukka racecars nowadays.

So for BDR it’s a case of assembling all the required information step-by-step. "At first we try to get as much information as we can get, like the service manual and the parts catalogue so we know what's missing and what we have to be careful about," he says. "And also [find out] what is the mileage for parts to be changed so we can keep a track on things."

Khun Vasin says that the more simplistic attributes of the G55 are a big help in understanding the car. "The Ginetta is quite straightforward with a standard engine and a MoTeC ECU which we are already familiar with," he says. "The MoTeC is already quite straightforward and well known in Thailand."

Its ‘kitcar’ qualities mean that many components can be replicated locally, thus cutting costs and time delays. "The Ginetta is like a kitcar, some parts from this, some parts from that, some parts [Ginetta] has fabricated itself, so all the things we can do here," notes Khun Vasin. "The bodywork is fiberglass, so we can do that here, everything really is just like a kitcar, it doesn’t have complicated systems like a top end GT3 car. So it's an easy car to run or keep for fun."

It all means the car should perfectly tick the boxes for the new Super Car Class 3-GTC category, after all this latest addition to the ‘Super Car’ format has been designed especially with FIA GT4 ‘level’ racecars in mind. "From its spec it should be competitive enough but I don’t know yet whether we can get it onto the front row or not," says Khun Vasin.

So really the Ginetta is a very big unknown - only when Khun Oou stretches the British sportscar’s legs for the first time over the thoroughly benchmarked 2.4-kms of Bira Circuit will its capabilities become more apparent.

Certainly though this is going to be an interesting addition to the TSS ranks and as one of the very few Ginettas racing outside of Europe it’s yet another emphasis of just how far the series has come on over the last year and a half.

Crash diet

Sharp-eyed fans will have noticed that the matte black #87 Nissan GT-R R35 driven at Bira Circuit last month by Khun Traitanit Chimtawan was in fact a brand new built racecar turning its wheels for the first time. That means the NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand team has now worked its way through three of the Japanese racecars so far this season.

The ‘GT-R story’ in fact started last year with Team Owner Khun Thongchai Kittisiriprasert casting around for a new direction for Super Car Class 2-GTM 2014 as his brace of fast but fragile Mitsubishi Evo Xs were clearly not up for the fight. He landed on the rapid Nissan GT-R R35 that won the prestigious ‘Road Sport Challenge’ race at the Macau Grand Prix a few years ago in the hands of Japanese star Khun Max Orido and it seemed a good bet, particularly as Khun Thongchai wanted to remain wedded to a Japanese brand and also continue with in-house development which ruled out the now popular ‘turn-key’ European prestige sportscar brand option.

At the same time as this racecar was being shipped in from Hong Kong, the Bangkok-based NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand outfit built a second GT-R R35 from the ground up to a very similar specification. But for this second stage of the project though a road car was purchased and turned into a racecar in record time. That #99 car was in the hands of the team’s regular Japanese hotshot Khun Naoya Yamano during the season-opener in Sepang while Khun Traitanit pedaled the Macau-winning machine.

The cars easily confounded pessimistic predictions concerning their reliability and both scored points in both races - even if they were being somewhat nursed to the line. In fact in the first race, Khun Traitanit handed the GT-R a truly sensational debut result - third place in Class 2-GTM and a trip to the podium while his Japanese teammate made it both cars in the top-six.

Clearly the overall project had a lot of promise to extract - but equally clearly there was going to be a heck of a lot of work for this team to do, mainly focusing around engine cooling and the unacceptably heavy weight of the cars.

Once the GT-Rs had returned to Bangkok the team analysed the data and the lessons learnt in Malaysia and went back to the drawing board during the remaining month leading up to TSS’s visit to Bira Circuit.

Out of the picture went the Macau winning car, for several reasons. The rollcage didn’t suit future regulations while the requirements to bond the car for import would be an unnecessary inconvenience if the team could build a second example locally. We ran the Macau car and we made our own car for Sepang," said Khun Thongchai. "But the problem is that the roll bar [of the Macau car] doesn’t fit the TSS regulations, it’s just bolt on, no welding. We also have to ship [the car] out of the country; I don’t want to have the problem getting the car and sending [it] out, so we send it back."

The first task was to tackle the weight issue. "Both cars are 1,800 kg, they’re about 300 to 400 kg away from the regulations, so after Sepang with the one car we build we remove everything and rebuild again, make the chassis lighter. We buy one more local car so [have] bought two local cars, so in the future we can send the cars anywhere we want."

So the task was not only to slim the GT-Rs down but to solve the engine cooling issues - and with the Macau car gone, to quickly get back to full two-car strength with the clock to Bira ticking away very fast. Khun Naoya’s car was stripped back down to the chassis and a second GT-R road car purchased, as Khun Thongchai explains. "The chassis work [of the #99] started one week after the car arrived back from Sepang and the [new] road car body was just finished about two weeks [before Bira] so we just had a few weeks to build it; this was a new road car."

The NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand team focused on the problem of the cars running too hot and Khun Thongchai was confident that they had made progress. "We make many new things," he said in the garage at Bira. "First of all we have to think about the temperature because in Sepang the car had a problem with overheating, the engine water temp and also the transmission temp, so now we prepared all the new cooling systems for the car. That is very difficult for us because we are in a hot country. So now it should be okay with the new radiator, new oil cooler [and] new air [intake]."

In the pit garage the two GT-Rs showed visible signs of their newest ‘evolution’, there were new bulging wheel arches to allow the front diffuser to meet series width regulations, front wing dive plates, a new flush roof mounted cockpit air intake, new NACA ducts in the rear three-quarter windows and still further new intakes cut into the rear wheel arches to feed air straight to the rear brakes.

Meanwhile, the brand new #87 machine was fitted with bigger dive plates than its sister #99 while it also sported larger rear wing endplates. There was a tweak to the livery too as in Sepang both the matte black cars had been finished in red above the beltline and across the roof, this time the #78 stayed red but it became a lurid metallic shade while the #99 was finished in an equally lurid bright green tinge.

Super Car Class 2-GTM’s third and fourth races of the season provided much less rich picking for the NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand GT-Rs than Sepang. Khun Traitanit retired the #87 car in both races, despite showing plenty of pace and being well in amongst the podium positions, although Khun Naoya nursed the #99 to the finish in both races to pick up two more helpings of points.

However both drivers are well placed in the championship; in seventh and eighth places, respectively, are Khun Naoya with 119 points and Khun Traitanit with 113 points. The championship's current leader, Khun Voravud Bhirombhakdi (Ferrari), has 156 points while the fifth placed driver, Khun Nattapong Horthongkum, has 126 points - so there is all to play for.

And the NSports-Yokohama-Project Mu Thailand team isn’t planning to sit still. In the long break before the series resumes in Buriram in early November, the third development phase of the ambitious GT-R programme is taking place and that is seeing the #87 car being adapted to two-wheel drive.

The team has had to balance the urgent need to make the significant weight gains required to be competitive with the extra advantages that come with all wheel traction - and ripping this system out is pretty much the only area where big savings can be made. So the decision now has swung in the favour of switching to two-wheel-drive. "Because the weight is still about 1,800 kilos, but if we make [the car] two wheel drive we will remove the all wheel drive so it’s going to be 250 [kilos] lighter than the previous car," reasons Khun Thongchai. That should make a big difference.

The high-speed nature of Buriram United International Circuit with its long power straights and fast sweeping turns should suit the GT-R more than any other track on the calendar and the new two wheel drive format should also be very effective there. The cars should also suffer much less at this track with their inherent cooling issues.

Certainly expect to see this ambitious and exciting project, which is already a firm favourite with Thai fans, taking another step towards the business end of the grid in November. With Khun Naoya having a clashing commitment in Japan at the same time as Buriram the team will also have a new driver in the #99 car.

Global input as Mazda's racing programme hits its targets

Last year there was quite a shakeup to the well-established Thailand Super Series Super Production order when Mazda officially joined the championship hunt. This was a ‘factory’ supported effort, directly backed by Mazda Sales Thailand (MST) and with international assistance from Mazda's engineering teams from both Japan and North America. Not only that, but there was a little bit of extra input courtesy of one of the world’s top Mazda-associates, Knight Sports of Japan. Super Production had suddenly added a very exciting new variable to its competitive mix.

The Thai raceteam entrusted with developing and running the two attractive red-and-black Mazda2 machines was Innovation Motorsport, a division of the Thai headquartered RMA Group. Innovation had slowly developed a very strong relationship with the Japanese brand thanks in a great part to its recent ruthless dominance of Super Pickup with its Mazda BT-50 trucks. Track success had really done the talking. As such it was also logical that the team’s winning truck driver pairing, famous Thai actor Khun Pete Thongchua and gritty Australian Khun Michael Freeman, were retained to lead out the new Super Production programme.

Developing the Mazda2s from scratch was a tough task as there are very few of these B-segment cars racing globally in similar specifications to draw knowledge from. That’s unlike other well developed Super Production stalwarts, such as Honda’s Jazz and City, where proven race components are in plentiful supply. However the step-by-step programme, which started in mid-2013 with a part Super Production season, quickly bore fruit and Khun Pete bagged the Mazda2’s first win at the second Bira round last year.

This year Innovation Motorsport is running a full Super Production season and the Laem Chabang based team joined the TSS trip to Sepang for the first time. The team had to work hard to get up to speed on this fast and flowing track and with raw power being currently the weakest point of the still developing package the Mazda2s were a little bit breathless along the vast straight sections.

The first race of the weekend didn’t bring any rewards as the cars suffered a double DNF; however once the team got to grips with Sepang and continued to develop their setups they enjoyed a double podium finish in Race 2. Khun Pete, in the #17 hatchback version, crossed the line in fourth place to lead his teammate Khun Michael in the #55 sedan bodyshape home.

The two drivers carried that momentum forward to Bira last month and they in fact made it three trips to the winners’ podium out of a possible four, Khun Mike having the better fortune this time as he claimed a second and fourth place finish while Khun Pete nailed down a fifth and six place.

It means that with four races completed and now at the halfway stage in the Super Production championship this year the Mazda2 drivers have been on the podium no less than five times and collected championship points on six out of eight possible occasions. Khun Mike now sits fourth overall in the championship with 73 points while Khun Pete is sixth with 64 points and all is still to play for. Meanwhile, in the Teams’ championship Innovation Motorsport is in a handy third place with 57 points.

So it’s been a pretty good start to the programme for all parties involved while the clear commitment from Mazda Sales Thailand and it's overseas affiliates has helped the team achieve its initial goals in Super Production, unquestionably one of the most highly competitive championships in Thailand.

Underscoring the commitment to this programme from Mazda, certainly in international terms, was the presence in the paddock at Bira last month of Khun Tod Kaneko. He’s the manager of Mazda North America's Advanced Engineering Group, where his responsibilities include powertrain development roles for the factory's famous Mazdaspeed programmes.

Khun Tod in fact made a roundabout connection with Innovation Motorsport just a few years back. "I met Michael through a good friend named Bernie Herrera [who] runs the world famous SevenStock event organisation back in the USA. Sevenstock is the largest annual [meeting of] rotaries, the only event [of its type] in the world," he explained in the paddock at Bira last month while the team was preparing the two Mazda2s for the race weekend. "Bernie was gracious enough to make the introduction to Khun Michael to me. Since then we have developed a great working relationship in basic vehicle engineering programmes as well motorsports related activities."

Khun Michael meanwhile is a longtime fan of Mazda’s unique engineering capabilities and notably races with #55 - that’s quite simply a legendary number for any Mazda fan as it’s the racing number carried by the Mazda 787B that sensationally - as well as quite unexpectedly - delivered the brand its best ever racing success, victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours. To date, Mazda is still the only Japanese manufacturer to win outright at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

By coincidence - recalls Khun Mike - Khun Bernie was at the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival, he saw the iconic #55 plastered on the side of Khun Mike’s Mazda BT-50 running in Super Pickup and ventured into the Innovation Motorsport garage to enquire if this Australian was fully aware of its significance in the Mazda 'world'. Of course Khun Mike was. But more importantly this incidental meeting led to the introduction and ultimate link to Mazda and its Mazdaspeed's heritage team members.

"A few years ago during one of Michael's business trips to the US, we had the chance to finally hook up [and] we had the opportunity to discuss the backgrounds and the potential of motorsports activities in Asia," continues Khun Tod. "Two years ago I was in Asia on business. I had the chance to see what was really going on in this ASEAN motorsports arena. This market in terms of motorsports participation and growth potential blew me away. All indications pointed out that the ASEAN region was definitely becoming an emerging motorsports market opportunity."

Impressed by the upward curve of Thai motorsport and with the solid platform provided by Innovation Motorsport through their truck-racing programme, Khun Tod kept an eye on Thailand. "Over the last couple of years I’ve seen the growth here in Thailand" he says. "So with that in mind we talked with Khun Gomi-san at Mazda Sales Thailand (MST). We further discussed a strategy and planned on how to create a trial grassroots level programme together for MST. We researched prominent and well experienced local teams that could potentially conduct such a programme here in Thailand."

The dots quickly aligned. "Innovation Motorsports already had a wealth of winning racing experience under its belt. And its parent company, RMA Group, already had an established relationship with Mazda Sales Thailand. RMA Group owns a network of Mazda dealerships in Thailand so working with that level of established relationships the partnership was relatively easy to form."

Significantly, Khun Tod sees the new Super Production programme as being the starting point of a long-term motorsport involvement by Mazda in this region. "The Mazda2 programme is a good stepping stone for Mazda Thailand. It will give them an opportunity to gets their feet wet with valued motorsports experience," he reckons. "It's Mazda Sales Thailand’s first experience with motorsports, so we’re all making lots of small learning steps for them during this initial participation in the Thailand Super Series."

He’s also pleased with how the TSS Super Production campaign is shaping up - and importantly, he sees that racing in the series is generating good marketing and brand enhancement exposure for the Mazda brand. When asked about the positives of the program, Khun Tod replied: "This is really the first full year of the programme so I think in terms of the success, obviously the racing side is successful, but it’s the marketing programme benefits that really has to pay off," he explains.

"You can have a good motorsports programme and win races but if nobody knows about it, it’s a waste of time and effort," he continued. "So hand in hand with the marketing, we are all working hard to build a good brand image and recognition for Mazda by racing in Thailand Super Series. So yes, I feel the successes of this program is moving our objectives in the right direction".

With Khun Tod’s vast engineering and motorsports background and combined with the core engineering bedrock of the RMA Group, it’s been a partnership that’s really flowed easily from day one. "Basically I manage the Advanced Engineering Programmes for Mazda North America, and from this motorsports engineering programs have evolved mainly in the form of powertrain related development support," says Khun Tod.

"So meeting with Michael and his team, they’re a pretty robust and experienced team with strong proven backgrounds. It was very refreshing and we connected right away. It was rather simple on how we envisioned putting the race vehicle and engine programmes together, and more importantly how to make it successful. It first started off with their multi-championship dominating [Mazda BT-50] racing diesel trucks and my previous background experience in turbocharging. We connected well and had a conversation on how to make their diesels run better, faster, and more reliable," Khun Tod continues. "It just all evolved from there in terms of how the image of RMA's next generation racing programmes should evolve."

And in terms of the future racing programs? Well, all the indications are that it should be aimed at showcasing Mazda’s newest SKYActiv Technologies. Their application to motorsports activities to promote and prove Mazda’s SKYActiv performance, durability, and reliability is really second to none.

As for the new Thailand Super Series, Khun Tod mentioned, "It’s a much more organised series than was [the case] prior. Just watching the growth of the series over the past two years, the evolution of the TSS programme is really looking like it’s developing into a premier racing series. The new TSS series classifications, parity adjustments, regulation enforcement and marketing campaigns all make for a top tier professional series. Back in the States and in Europe there are pretty well established sanctioning bodies and regulations to conform to, so I think if TSS follows a similar path it’s only going to make them a better series to participate in."

Porsche factory driver Martin Ragginger joins the coaching influx

Thailand boasts plenty of star names on the Super Car grid, Khun Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak, Khun Chonsawat Asavahame and Khun Sak Nana for example while even a former F1 driver, Khun Tomáš Enge, has joined the top class this year and is already a firm favourite of the fans.

Last year Khun Tomáš was actually here and in the paddock on race weekends, but the Czech star's presence was unobtrusive and outside the Vattana Motorsport garage only a few knew that a former Le Mans 24 Hour winner was in our midst. And that’s something of a new narrative; international superstar names have been lurking in the back of the garages advising drivers and teams, quietly playing key roles in the internationalisation of TSS. Few have noticed Japanese hotshot Khun Keita Sawa dropping in at Bira Circuit although Dutch whizz Khun Carlo Van Dam raised his paddock profile somewhat by hopping into a Super 2000 car at the last round.

And at Bira last month another driver added himself to the ‘roster’ of professionals flooding into the paddock - Khun Martin Ragginger. He has an impressive CV as a factory Porsche driver, he’s raced for Porsche’s Junior team and just totting up the last year he was the runner up in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia as well as bagging a class win in the Dubai 24 Hours and claiming fourth place in the ADAC GT Masters series.

Khun Martin’s also a regular fixture on the entry list of the legendary Nürburgring 24 Hours - and that’s where he made the connection with Khun ‘Kiki’ Sak Nana, who has been competing in this famous race for the last couple of editions and this year was on the driving strength of Toyota Team Thailand’s bold adventure to the race affectionately known as the ‘Green Hell’.

After an unproductive 2013 by his own high standards when he was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3, Khun Kiki has switched to Porsche power for this year and has assembled a very strong team around him to help his push for Super Car glory.

Porsche’s 997 GT3-R won the Super Car Class 1-GT3 title last year so unquestionably it’s a package right at the top of its game. Getting used to the new car and extracting the most out of it, was the objective at Bira, where Khun Kiki debuted for the new season, and really there was no one much better qualified to help him than Khun Martin.

At Bira last month the Austrian driver played a key role in the buildup to the race, both helping Khun Kiki acclimatise himself to the car but also hopping behind the wheel to develop setups and provide a benchmark. After all overlaying your data with that of a ‘pro’ who knows the GT3-R inside out isn't going to leave any places to hide.

The pre race testing went well as, while running on old tyres, within just a few runs and with traffic to contend with Khun Kiki was quickly matching the best times he managed in the Lamborghini last year. By Friday morning when the official programme kicked off and Khun Martin was relegated to the pitwall everything was going to plan. Khun Kiki responded to the progress by whacking in his fastest time of the week - just when it was needed - in qualifying.

As the sunlight faded on the Friday afternoon Khun Martin admitted he was pleased with progress. "We've had quite a bit of time to spend in the car with Kiki, he's made by far his fastest lap time in qualifying and I'm really happy with his performance because it’s a short day in the car and the Porsche isn’t an easy car to drive."

All week Khun Martin had stated that getting the most out of the Kiki-Porsche package would be achieved step by step and it was bang on target. "He's improving everyday and if it continues at this speed at the next race he should be there," said the Austrian. "Now we don’t put too much pressure on him, but like I say he's doing a fantastic job, he's done everything so far we have told him to do. I'm happy and the car is good for him and we’re looking forward to the race."

It's always interesting to ask new drivers for their impressions of the longtime home of Thai motorsport - Bira Circuit. And it's an especially worth asking when they deliver an unscripted sound bite like Khun Martin did. "I would describe it as like a part of the [Nürburgring] Nordschleife," he said. "But a very small part obviously as we are doing 1-minute laptimes here so it's not that long but from the track layout it's bumpy, it's technical, it has fast corners and fast chicanes so you need to have big balls here."

Also in the garage is Khun Jeff. He's Khun Piti Bhirombhakdi's Team Manager but has now evolved into being the Porsche point man in the paddock and has been responsible for bringing over several of the state-of-the-art German racecars that have now arrived here.

Most recently, Khun Jeff was a force behind the switch to Porsche power for Khun Kiki and the arrival of this latest 997 GT3-R, seemingly yet another 'last ever' version of this successful GT3 generation racecar to pitch up in Thailand. It's been built from scratch and along with this machine he's helped to shape the new support team that has been put together to give Khun Kiki the best possible chance of winning.

"This 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," Khun Jeff noted. "So we have Martin the racer from Porsche to come in and test drive and set up the car and we have Sven [Schnabl] to look after the car as the Head Race Engineer to set up suspension, the PCM and everything. Khun Kiki decided to change to Porsche right after the Bangsaen race, right after he saw Khun Piti and Khun Vuttikorn drive and that their times are the track record. We received this car at the end of April."

After a successful race week, which ended with Khun Kiki netting a double podium finish, expect to see Khun Martin back in the Krating Daeng garage, commitments permitting. "Hopefully if he doesn’t have to do VLN in Germany at the Nordschleife he will be with me," said Khun Kiki as the team packed up. "We're like brothers now, we’ve known each other since the 24 hour race on the Nordschleife and we get on really well and he's been a pretty good teacher and a pretty good friend. He's helped me a lot. All the team I have to say thank you to, without them I wouldn’t be on the podium."


PaddockTalk Perspective



Also in Sports Cars:



 
Related links
· Sports Car Edition
· Top PaddockTalk News!
· More about Sports Cars







Home :: _ 


All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner.
The comments are property of their posters, all the rest (c) 2003-2014 by PaddockTalk.com.
Contact E-mail: admin@paddocktalk.com
Privacy