MOTOR RACING PATTAYA
Raldorf and Engstler Battle Their Way to a Bang Saen Podium
The Unixx TR-Motorsport Team rolled into the coastal town of Bang Saen for rounds 5 & 6 of the Thailand Super Series.
GTM Supercar Class
Thomas Raldorf - Franz Engstler – Porsche 997
After the issues that plagued the team in rounds 3 & 4 at The Chang International Circuit in Buriram, the focus now was to get back into contention for the title race on the tight, twisty streets of Bang Saen. The team welcomed Franz Engstler AKA Mr Motorsport who would be Co-driver with Thomas Raldorf for the weekend. Franz Engstler needs no introduction as he has one of the finest racing pedigrees on the planet and is a welcome addition to the team. Franz soon got to grips with the 997 in the practice sessions as both he and Thomas constantly bettered their times. As qualifying arrived the team were in confident mood and the drivers delivered with Franz taking 4th on the grid for Race 1 and Thomas going two places better with 2nd on the grid for Race 2.
As the lights went green on the rolling start, Franz, who was driving the first stint of the race was slow off the line as second gear wouldn’t initially engage and was quickly passed on the main straight by the two Toyotas, dropping him down to 6th, after a few consolidation laps Franz was soon on the tail of 5th place. The circuit is notoriously difficult to pass as Franz weaved left and right to try to get a run on the 5th place and his persistence eventually paid off squeezing past the #38 Toyota GT86. 24 minutes into the one hour race and Franz was all over the back of the 4th place GT86 who made a big mistake smashing into the wall completely destroying the front right section of the car resulting in the safety car being deployed and Franz, after some evasive driving to avoid the accident moving into 4th place overall.
The safety car allowed all the cars to bunch up giving Franz another opportunity to gain more places at the restart. A few laps into the safety car period the #38 Toyota following behind pulled into the pits for the Compulsory Pit Stop (CPS) and driver changeover. The Unixx TR-Motorsport pit crew decided to follow suit to negate any chances of the undercut. Franz was informed over the radio to box, box, box and he duly confirmed, however, the team were then told pitting under the safety car is not allowed, the team tried to relay this to Franz but his radio was down so in he came to the pits as originally asked.
As the safety car was still deployed Thomas quickly caught up to the back of the pack and when the safety car pulled in, the cars in front made their CPS leaving Thomas in first place by 23 seconds. However, due to the pit stop infringement the team were under investigation and were duly black flagged a short time after, disqualifying them along with the #38 Toyota who also committed the same infringement. A lesson learned as valuable championship points were lost.
Although disappointed from the pit stop confusion in Race 1, the team were still confident of a good haul of points for Race 2. They were several casualties from Race 1 that didn’t start the race leaving just a field of six as the lights went green. The pole position Ferrari 488 challenge quickly showed its speed as it started to break away from the chasing pack, while Thomas fought hard to hold off the B-Quik Porsche. The remaining #38 Toyota suffered brake failure on the very first lap and ended up in the barriers, the safety car was deployed soon after as the marshals removed the stricken car.
As the safety car pulled in the 488 challenge once again pulled away quickly leaving Thomas to defend his 2nd place from the faster B-Quik Porsche. The top three cars were constantly setting fastest laps and Thomas was starting to catch the Ferrari. By the time pit window opened the top three were separated by just over one second.
During the driver change over an issue with belts lost the team valuable seconds and when Franz eventually got going he was several seconds behind the Ferrari. The very next lap the B-Quik Porsche made their CPS and got out well ahead of both Franz and the leading Ferrari. Franz now had a mammoth task ahead with a 21-second gap to the leading Porsche. Peter Jaeger, TR-Motorsport Race Engineer got on the radio and asked for 4 more tenths per lap, Franz gave him an extra second as he continued the chase.
As the race wore on, the Ferrari, which was originally 16 seconds behind the B-Quik car was now all over the back of the Porsche and challenging for the lead. With only a few minutes of the race left, the two cars fighting for the lead approached a backmarker and as the Porsche attempted to block the Ferrari and pass the back marker he braked off the racing line where there was less grip and could not slow the car down quick enough sending him into the barriers allowing the Ferrari through to take the lead. Although the Porsche managed to get going again, significant damage to the front right of the car allowed Franz to quickly catch up and overtake him to claim a very hard fought 2nd place.
Franz drove back to the pit lane and was swamped by team members and jubilant fans celebrating a thrilling drive by the Danish Dynamo and Mr Motorsport to get the team on to the second step of the podium and some much-needed championship points.
In the race for the championship the team are now level on points with the Ferrari team in 2nd place and only 16 points behind the B-Quik team with a further 60 points available in the rounds 7 & 8, the Championship is still a possibility. The Porsche will be back on track for the final event of the season as they return to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for the final rounds on October 23rd.
Engine Issues Can’t Stop Tony Percy Maintaining Championship Lead
Tony Percy – Honda Integra DC5
Super 2000 / Thailand Touring Car Class
After his previous exploits in Buriram and now with an engine that had undergone a complete overhaul, both Tony and Unixx TR-Motorsport were in confident mood as they arrived early in the week at the Thai coastal town of Bang Saen.
Over previous years on the difficult street circuit Tony has always fallen just short of a podium place, mainly due to reliability issues, with the new overhaul and other improvements made to the DC 5, could 2018 be the year he finally ascends those steps?
Unfortunately, the week got off to the worst of starts, during the first practice session Tony was struggling to keep the car in a straight line leaving him unable to push the cars limits. Adjustments were made in between practice sessions but the issue still remained. A new steering rack was ordered from Bangkok and arrived the next day and was installed in time for qualifying.
Qualifying started and was soon stopped by a red flag as another car in Tony’s class had careered into the barriers bringing the session to a halt. As the session restarted more bad luck befell Tony as the car was significantly down on power without any obvious reason. The veteran racer is not one to give up and still drove his heart out to take a respectable 8th place on the grid for Race 1. The team were once again left to reflect on what might have been had the car been on full power.
The decision was made to open the engine and after informing the stewards the team of mechanics got to work and soon discovered a blown head gasket that had further damaged the engine. The amount of work needed to repair the engine exceeded the time available, with this in mind the engine was replaced with the spare K20 engine overnight.
Due to breaking the engine seal and replacing the engine Tony would start at the very back of the grid and hope to mount a charge through the field, those thoughts were quickly dashed. After taking several positions within the first three corners disaster struck again, the Honda slowed and then eventually stopped out on track. When the car returned to the pits it was found that a nut holding the throttle cable in place had come loose causing the retirement.
In a bizarre twist of fate, every car in the same class failed to finish the race so although Tony was dejected the damage to his championship challenge was minimised.
Race 2 was a completely different affair, this time the charge from the back came and the car held together with Tony showing the crowds that age doesn’t matter, storming through the field to take a very well deserved 2nd place and some valuable championship points to extend his lead in the title race.
Although not the weekend Tony and the team expected, to come away from it with a bigger lead in the championship is a great result. Thoughts now quickly turn to rounds 5 & 6 of the Thailand Super Series that will be held at the Bira International Circuit on the outskirts of Pattaya City on 31st August to September 2nd.
Stomach Virus Halts Victor’s Charge - Victor Jensen – Honda Jazz -Super Production Class
Unixx TR-Motorsport’s young Danish prodigy Victor Jensen was competing for the second time at Bang Saen, in 2017 the young Viking was racing a Toyota Vios in the One Make Race Series held during the Bang Saen Festival of Speed. This year Victor was in the more powerful TR-Motorsport Honda Jazz, and although a big jump in horsepower from the Toyota the transition was effortless as he soon got to grips with the unforgiving street circuit.
First practice didn’t start well as Victor soon lost power steering due to an electrical issue followed by a number of accidents bringing out the red flag and ending the session, with Victor only managing one full race pace lap, albeit hindered by the steering issue. The steering issue could not be rectified by the second practice session but Victor still managed to post several competitive laps over 10 seconds faster than his Toyota Vios times the previous year. He ended the session in a commendable 6th place. The team of mechanics headed by Sven Thummel then set about fixing the steering issue before qualifying session the next day.
While the mechanics were busy in the pits Victor and his coach Thomas Raldorf studied the data from the car and compared it against previous years data and walked the track to find ways to eke out a few more tenths and improve Victors racing lines on the tight and twisty circuit. The data analysis and track walk definitely worked as a fired up Victor blew away the more senior opposition to take Pole Position with a time that was 4 seconds faster than his best lap in free practice.
As the lights went green Victor struggled to get the car off the line and fell back to 3rd place, over the next few laps the young driver regained focus, pushing hard at every corner and was soon on the tail of 2nd place. Victor pulled out of the slipstream to get alongside and narrowly beat him into the next corner to take the position. The lead car was 7 seconds down the track and Victor was on the hunt closing the gap to just 2 seconds after only a few laps, however, the Bang Saen street circuit is notoriously difficult to pass on and a wayward backmarker held up his charge dropping him back 6 seconds from Khun Yotsaron in the lead Honda City. With only a few laps remaining the determined Viking pushed again taking the fastest lap of the race but was unable to catch the eventual winner, Khun Yotsaron of Tein Team Thailand. Both Victor and the team were very happy with the 2nd place after all the steering issues that had plagued the preparation to the race.
Victor had been suffering from a stomach virus all week which had abated as the weekend approached, however, the virus returned after Race 1 and intensified overnight leaving Victor light headed and lethargic, the decision was made by his coach Thomas that he was unfit to race and the car was removed from the grid. A big loss of points but the right decision was made, with Victor promising a big weekend for rounds 5 & 6 at the Bira International Circuit from August 31st – September 2nd.
The team would like to thank their gracious sponsors, Unixx Lubricants, Planet Porsche, Amber Food & Grapes, AKA Traders, SEARA Sports, Sky Marine Group, SCAN Global Logistics, Retox Group, Inspire Thailand, B-Quik Racing, Freem Thailand, PFC Brakes, MOGIT, Industrial Cutting Services, Grover Grover Tailors, BK Racing Clutch, Human i.t. and Thai Visa.
A special thanks to all the fans and guests who came along to enjoy the weekend.
For more information about the team and upcoming events visit tr-motorsport.com, you can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Line search Unixx TR-Motorsport Thailand.