TR-Motorsport – Battling In Buriram
By Earl Brown Photos Courtesy of Kim Ha - www.motorsportfans.in.th
TR-Motorsport powered by Conti-X once again overcame adversity to steal the show at Rounds 3 & 4 of the Thailand Super Series in Buriram. Anyone who has been following the team for the last two years will remember the Lazarus-esque comeback in the S1 R championship when Thomas, beset with gearbox issues failed to make qualifying and started the race in 25th position, on that occasion Thomas roared through the pack and by the end of lap 3 was in 3rd place which would be his final finishing position. The old adage ‘Lightening doesn’t strike twice’ is often proved wrong and last weekend was no exception.
As the team headed into the weekend all was looking good, the mechanics back at the garage had got the Honda City purring like a kitten and ready for battle once more. However, motorsport never runs smoothly and issues with the throttle sensor plagued the free practice session with the car losing power in several corners resulting in a lowly 16th place on the timesheets. The team got to work straight away fixing the same issue that had ended their race early in Bang Saen last year and all was looking good for qualifying. As qualifying began the engine, which had been running perfectly all week back in the garage was now starting to lose power which got worse as the laps went by. Thomas managed to qualify in 9th place, 1.6 seconds behind pole position, this was a great effort considering the engine was well underpowered. After qualifying it was decided that the engine issue would only get worse and it was too risky to try and repair it for the races, the better option was to try and salvage what parts they could and fit an entirely new engine.
With the engine replacement came a grid penalty of 10 places meaning the team would now start 19th, way down the grid and with lots of cars to pass in front of them! Thomas in his usual Danish manner was unfazed by the challenge that lay ahead and gave a prediction that “if all went well” he could make the top 8 by the end of the 11 lap race. His prediction was a little on the generous side as Thomas stormed through the field as early as lap one, passing cars on the straight before the first corner. Cars in midfield were providing all the action on the track with spins, shunts, and breakdowns aplenty. Thomas threaded his way through the field meticulously managing to avoid all the incidents apart from one, at turn 7 he found himself sandwiched between two other drivers who were vying for position in their own class. Thomas with nowhere to go held his line as much as possible and survived the ‘close encounters’ with just a few scratches and bumps to #29 car and then continued his charge up the field. With 3 laps to go Thomas was in 4th place which would be a fine result considering what had gone before. However, the two cars in front of him were in a heated battle with places changing every at corner allowing Thomas to catch up to them quickly. Both cars then had a coming together slowing them considerably and Thomas seized his opportunity taking 3rd place with ease and it wasn’t long before until he forced the 2nd placed car into a mistake allowing him to overtake. Although Thomas was catching the leader the distance was too great with the amount of laps remaining and the second step of the podium was the reward for yet another incredible drive by the Danish Dynamo. Thomas also secured the fastest lap with a time of 2.02:39
The Top five finishers from Race 1 are reversed on the grid for Race 2 meaning Thomas would start in 4th, however, due to a penalty to another driver Thomas was promoted to 3rd. Full of confidence from the previous day's achievements the team was hoping for another strong performance and Thomas didn't disappoint. As the five lights went out he made a slow getaway initially but recovered the lost ground on the main straight to find himself in 4th close behind the 3rd place car. The pole sitter had made a mistake and gone wide at turn 1 allowing his pursuers to take advantage along the main straight with Thomas overtaking on the inside of the hairpin to move up to 3rd. The #29 car was now working like a dream and it wasn’t long before the 2nd place car succumbed to ‘The Blue Blur’ in turn 8. Thomas now set his sights on the leader of the race and the championship Hideahru Kuroki.
During the next few laps, the field began to sort itself out, with all the incidents happening mid or backfield causing no influence on Thomas’s race. With 6 laps to go he began to close the gap on the leader. but the 3rd place car driven by Khun Yutsarun was quickly closing in and putting pressure on the Dane. Thomas opted to let the leader go and concentrate on defending his position for the last few laps. Khun Yutsurun, now in the slipstream made several attempts to pass at turn 1 and turn 12 but Thomas with over 36 years’ racing experience was able to hold him at bay and reach the chequered flag before him, much to the delight of the whole team watching from the pit wall. Two races, two-second places was a great result in Buriram especially considering how the weekend began. The team are now in second place in both the drivers’ championship and the team championship with 4 more races to go. Congratulations to all the team and sponsors who have such an important role in making TR Motorsport the success that it is. The next action on the track will be 29-31 July for the RAAT 6 Hour Endurance Championship Race again in Buriram. For more information on TR Motorsport visit www.tr-motorsport.com and follow their Facebook page www.facebook.com/TRMotorsportThailand .