SUPER CAR SHOWDOWN AT BIRA CIRCUIT
Words and Pictures by Edd Ellison
Thailand Super Series rolled into Pattaya mid last month for its annual visit here and the penultimate round of the season for the biggest motorsport championship. As usual many city residents made the short trek across to Bira Circuit to see the action unfolding over a long, very hot and dry weekend – and they weren’t disappointed a bit.
At the top of the Thai racing tree is Super Car GTM and there was huge anticipation as the biggest beasts came to Pattaya as since last year the championship has grown further with exciting new drivers and new cars signing up. The action out on the track really sizzled but try as everyone might – and his rivals pushed him hard over every single lap – the driver who has taken a firm grip of Super Car this year, Sarun Sereethoranakul, relentlessly continued his strategy of chasing his first title from the front.
Following a stunning qualifying performance Sarun claimed two superb and well judged victories in the races after turning in two inch perfect drives as the dramatic Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo LP620-2 proved just as adept around tight and twisty Bira Circuit as it had on the long power straights and fast flowing corners of Buriram earlier in the season. He dominated the weekend when others had been expected to take centre stage and in just 72 hours, Sarun, in only his third year competing in Super Car, went from being one of the fastest rising stars of Thai motorsport to one of our genuine top names, joining a handful of our best drivers that are guaranteed winning material. If you can win at Bira you can win anywhere. It was job superbly done and easily the best drive of his career so far.
Singha Motorsport Team Thailand was back with a bang at Bira Circuit. The Ferrari 458 Challenge doesn’t suit the characteristics of Buriram too well and they generally had a pretty torrid time in the North East. But unleash the Prancing Horse cars around Bira and they’re immediately a force to be reckoned with. They led the practice sessions, missed pole by a few fractions and proceeded to chase the Lamborghini to the finishl ine in both races. A pair of 2-3 finishes for Pattaya’s top driver Kantasak Kusiri and the highly experienced Voravud Bhirombhakdi bounced the team right into contention in the Teams’ championship and come the season closer in Bangsaen in November they are very well placed to nab the title.
There were many giant killing performances throughout the field. The Porsche 991 GT3 Cup suited Bira Circuit well and that unleashed Aekarat Discharoen and Pitsanu Sirimongkolkasem who thus far haven’t enjoyed a particularly productive season. These two proven quantities were in the hunt for the podium positions in both races and their dueling provided non-stop standout action. Both enjoyed well-deserved trips to the rostrum.
B-Quik Racing’s Daniel Bilski provided one of the comeback drives of the round while in Race 2 he fought his way onto the podium to get a decent reward for his efforts. The factory Toyotas though had a terrible time, a reversal of their dominant form during the last round in Buriram.
That was the story in Super Car GTM, but the blistering action didn’t stop there. Vattana Motorsport enjoyed a superb clean sweep in two of the standout categories on the bumper programme – Super Car GTC and TCR Thailand. The team racked up 1-2 finishes in both races in both championships with Narasak Ittiritpong and Jack Lemvard doubling up on driving duties. While Narasak wrapped up the GTC title with one round and two races still remaining Jack edged his way into the lead of the TCR Thailand championship classification. With drivers of this caliber on the roster plus state of the art racing new machinery under them, Vattana Motorsport wasn’t taking any prisoners – or leaving anything to chance.
In Super Car GTC Narasak arrived in Pattaya with a double win behind him at the last round and three out of four wins for the season, all behind the wheel of the sensational new KTM X-Bow GT4. Vattana Motorsport’s aim was very simple, a double win should be enough seal the title while they also drafted their second and thus so far idle KTM in at the last minute to provide support with Jack penciled in to drive. The result was a foregone conclusion as the two KTMs led proceedings from the start winning both races 1-2. Such was their dominant form that Narasak won the first race on three wheels having suffered a rapidly deflating tyre halfway round the last lap.
In TCR Thailand it was very much the same story as the same drivers, Narasak and Jack swapped mounts and again won 1-2, this time the advantage went to the latter – but that really didn’t tell the whole story at all. Two exciting and utterly close fought races saw Singha Motorsport Team Thailand’s Carlo Van Dam very unlucky not to walk away with a win. However that double victory and maximum points for Jack has really ignited the Drivers’ championship and he will go into the season closer at Bangsaen in two month’s time separated by just 3 points from the Dutch professional driver and all to play for.
Bira always dishes up a thriller and certainly this year was no different, the fans were treated to a weekend of spectacular drama occurring on almost every lap. Now it’s onto the season finale on the streets of Bangsaen next month and so expect to see many Pattaya race fans making the short trip northwards to watch the action unfolding.