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By Edd Ellison
Thailand Super Series returned to the North East last month for its second and final visit of the year to the new world class racing circuit in Buriram and after all the drama and excitement of the season opener anticipation was certainly sky-high for ‘The Sequel’.
The four biggest racing categories in Thailand, the three sportscar-focused ‘Super Car’ categories and ‘Super 2000’ the hard fought home of the best touring car action, didn’t disappoint the fans one bit as close fought racing ensued.
That sets the stage perfectly for TSS’s visit this month to Pattaya’s Bira International Circuit. This year the calendar comprises of four events as usual, the first two have seen the series travelling to Buriram to the new Chang International Circuit, but they’re both done with now and next stop is Bira, the historic heartland of Thai motorsport. The final round of the year will be on the streets of Bangsaen in November so Pattaya race fans have two ‘mega-events’ right on their doorstep coming up. That all said, plenty of people still braved the 415 km road journey from the seaside resort to Buriram to see the race action at Round 2 unfold last month.
In the biggest category of them all, Super Car Class 1-GT3, Reiter Vattana Motorsport’s Czech superstar Tomáš Enge and his teammate, the reigning champion Chonsawat Asavahame, split the wins between them. The pair were very evenly matched all weekend driving the #25 Chevrolet Camaro GT3 and #28 Lamborghini Gallardo Extenso R-EX respectively. Those results mirrored the first round of the series and it leaves the top class in a dead heat.
Meanwhile the pace in Super Car Class 2-GTM went through the roof as the arrival of Jack Lemvard in a front-running Vattana Motorsport-entered Lamborghini Gallardo LP520 really shook up the racing order. He planted his dazzling new machine straight onto pole position and controlled Race 1 from the front right from the green lights to the checkered flag to book himself the top step of the podium, announcing his return to the top in style.
Pattaya’s hotshot youngster Kantasak Kusiri chased him to the finishline in his Ferrari 458 Challenge in the first race and then went one better in the second to move into the provisional lead of the championship as the competitors left Buriram on Sunday evening, although the result of Race 2 currently remains provisional. Local race fans will certainly be out in force at Bira for round three to cheer on their hero as he looks to bring the title ‘home’.
The action in both the top classes was intense and the gaps throughout the weekend in practice, qualifying and the races were always wafer-thin. And despite the humidity and heavy skies the rain mostly stayed away. But it didn’t stop there as the newest addition to the Super Car 'tree’ at the pinnacle of Thai motorsport', Class 3-GTC, continued to justify its addition to the TSS programme with two exciting races that saw the action continuing to hot up and the standard of drivers, cars and teams is certainly growing fast as this category finds its feet.
The first Class 3-GTC race victory was claimed by Naputt Assakul in the sleek little Ginetta G55, he's now starting to shape up into the driver to beat for the title this year, while Race 2 saw Grant Supaphong take victory after a faultless drive in the Krating Daeng Mitsubishi Evo X and when this very powerful car runs reliably he seems to be quite unbeatable.
The Super 2000 win in Race 1 went to Khun Munkong Sathienthirakul who never looked like being headed in his pacey Honda Civic FD and he stamped his mark on the proceedings. He looked fast at the season opener too and so that was something of an overdue win. Stand in driver at Singha Motorsport Team Thailand, Khun Carlo Van Dam, got the closest but in the end the Dutch professional driver had to settle for the runners up spot while third place went to Singha TT Motorsport’s Khun Chayut Yangpichit who
‘Touring Car’ championship points leader Jack Lemvard bided his time in the first race in the ballast-laden Vattana Motorsport BMW E90 and by hanging on for P4 neatly lined himself up on the front row for the second race, thanks to the top five reverse grid, and with some of his weight being shed he powered away from the pack to claim his third win of the year and in doing so he starts to edge towards the title. Chayut went one better than the first race, he turned in another superb drive to nab the runners up spot while Pasarit Phromsombat continued his season long fine form with third place.
Super 2000 has a big reputation for providing some of the closest fought racing in Thailand and this year is proving to be no different. Super Car Class 3-GTC meanwhile is growing fast in stature and also commanding close racing from very evenly matched cars. Strength in depth and competitive racing are the hallmarks of both these popular categories.