Pattaya's Bira Circuit Reverberates to the 'New Era' of Thai Motorsport
Thailand Super Series, the new headline domestic racing championship that has got everyone talking, rolled into Pattaya’s historic Bira Circuit last month for the second round of its inaugural season. It certainly lived up to all the promise and hype, with lots hard fought, up close drama and action across the categories all coupled to perfect weather and plenty of off track activities for the big crowd that made the trek to watch the action.
The opening round of Thailand Super Series 2013 had taken place at the Sepang F1 Circuit in Malaysia back in May, so this was the first time for the ‘home’ crowd to see the action and first stop in Thailand was, appropriately, Pattaya.
In the top Super Car Class 1 there were wins apiece for Thai youngster Pasin Lathouras (Ferrari 458 GT3), who was making his Bira race debut, and the highly experienced Chonsawat Asavahame (Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2). Also of note was the stunning return to racing of Piti Bhirombhakdi after a couple of seasons out. He came back with a new Porsche 997 GT3-R and he promptly planted it on the front row of the grid for both races, before earning the runner-up spot in the opening race.
Meanwhile in Super Car Class 2, and such is the growth of Thailand Super Series the Super Car classes have already been split into two separate races, Narasak Ittiritpong (Mitsubishi Evo) took a popular debut win in the first race of the weekend. He was returning after a layoff and entering Super Car for the first time. What a difference there is now in Thai motorsport as drivers choose world-class racecars from brands including Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini to battle it out for the highly competitive Super Car title.
But it was the vastly experienced face of Nattavude Charoensukhawatana in the factory-entered Toyota 86 who prevailed in the second race to further extend his Class 2 championship points advantage.
In Super 2000 the showdown between Tin Sritrai in the BMW E90 and Kantasak Kusiri in the Honda Civic FD continued unabated and the two young Thai stars emerged from the weekend with a win apiece; they swapped paint all weekend and look set to continue to fight for the prestigious title all the way to Bangsaen.
Elsewhere, the ‘Super Production’ category saw a bumper entry list and two very closely contested races with Kajornsak Na Songkhla (Ford Fiesta) claiming both victories, while the ever popular ‘Super Truck’ kicked off its first weekend of the year with no less than three races that produced three different winners in three different brands of pickup – Khun Jaras Jaengkamolkulchai (Chevrolet Colorado), Khun Pete Thongchua (Mazda BT-50) and Khun Vorapot Bunchuaylua (Isuzu D-Max).
In the ‘one make’ Lotus Cup Thailand, which has returned to support the Thailand Super Series programme, the new Lotus Exige V6 Cup debuted and promptly brought down the category’s lap times, while ‘Super Eco’ racing arrived with a double-win for the Suzuki Swift for Red Bull drifting team star driver Daychapon Toyingcharoean.
Finally in the ‘Super 1500’ category, where amateur drivers can really make their mark, there was a win each for Komkrit Lertlumprasertkul and championship-leading young hotshot, Kantadhee Kusiri.
The weather in Pattaya stayed hot and dry all weekend, early forecasts that put rain as a high probability never materialized, while the grandstands filled up as the ‘New Era’ of Thai motorsport arrived in real style.
There were activities in the outfield as well as drifting, by top stars ‘Kiki’ and ‘Pond Injec’, and ‘Hot Laps’ on the track that saw raffle winners gain the chance to ride the track in a full racing car, during the lunch hour, while many celebrities, local dignitaries and VIPs mingled with race fans and the many families who came for a day out.
Thailand Super Series returns to Bira Circuit for the third round of the series this month (October 5-6) and the programme looks set to be explosive. The fourth and final round takes place just up the coastline on the streets of Bangsaen in December.