TR Motorsport Powered By Contix begin the 2016 Season
BY EARL BROWN
TR Motorsport were back on the track for the first time in 2016 with the start of the RAAT – Endurance Series held at the Chang International Circuit, Buriram. The specialised car had been a work in progress for over 3 months due to uncertainty with the rules and regulations for 2016. When the documentation finally arrived it appeared that there were some major changes we hadn't been informed about regarding the fuel delivery system for each endurance car and the size of the fuel tank, FIA approved 100 litre fuel tanks were to be used, however, this type of tank cannot be found on just any garage shelf. Luckily we did have an FIA approved tank at only 56-litre capacity but this would mean us refueling twice as many times as our competitors!
In getting the car ready for Buriram we used 5 different shops spread across the Kingdom and our team of mechanics worked around the clock to make sure we could make the first practice session. An electrical wiring issue tried to scupper our plans, however, the team worked 26 hours straight to fix the issue replacing all the wiring in the car. Final preparations on the DYNO and work on the ECU system were completed before leaving for Buriram, any other issues would have to be fixed at the pits.
Due to confusion with the circuit owners and event organisers we were not allowed into the facility until very late causing us to lose precious set-up time. When we did get on track the engine oil temperature was far too high. It appeared that the actual temperature had been over 150 degrees for a long time - the new gauge giving the wrong information to the driver. Our lubricant sponsor LUXX oil supply us with an incredible product that was able to manage at these temperatures fora long time but the damage had already been done as the engine, under testing, gave up when connection rods seized with the crank. Not even one race into the new season and already one engine was gone…. It would have been easy to just pack up and drive the 6 hours back to Pattaya but we are a racing team and there to race!
Through the power of social media, we sourced another engine in Bangkok that was delivered at 4:30am on qualifying day. Every member of the team got their hands dirty as the new engine was fitted in record time with just 30 minutes to spare before qualifying began. All was looking good until we took the car to be weighed and checked by the scrutineers. Due to yet another regulation change the car was now underweight and with no time to find extra weight any qualifying time we achieved would not be accepted, meaning we would start at the back of the grid for the race. We used the qualifying session to run a number of tests that showed we needed an oil cooler and a longer final drive for the gearbox, once again Bangkok came good and the parts arrived in good time.
As the race time quickly approached we had no idea of what our fuel consumption would be and therefore did not know how long we would be able to drive using the smaller 56 litre fuel tank, bearing this in mind we decided to take the safer option and drive in 45-minute stints to ascertain fuel consumption. As the lights went out Thomas tore up the track and within just 15 minutes had gone from 32nd to 2nd an incredible feat considering all that had gone before. After the first pit stop, Tony Percy took charge of the car clawing back places lost due to the relatively slow stop.
Even though the car had to make substantially more pit stops it ran flawlessly for 6 hours,each pit stop getting faster and faster as the mechanics learnt more with each one. As the clock approached 6 hours the whole team held their breath and prayed we would make it over the line, the chequered flag came out and a huge sigh of relief was given. After all the issues we had gone through the car finished 2nd in class. The willpower and determination of the whole team had got them across the line with a little help from lady luck! For the next endurance race a new 100-litre fuel tank will be installed and other tweaks to the car and engine.
After the trials and tribulations of the RATT Endurance Race TR Motorsport Powered by Contix returned to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for the Thailand Super Series. Temperatures were in the high 40’s all weekend, with the action on the track being just as hot!
Thomas and the #29 car was part of one of the greatest battles the Chang International Circuit has ever seen. Starting in 8th after suffering a loss of power in qualifying Thomas knew the road ahead wouldn't be easy with some very talented drivers in front of him covered by less than one second. As the lights went out Thomas's task was compounded when he got bogged down with wheel spin. The first corner was always going to be a pivotal part of the race with so many drivers vying for the same line, luckily Thomas came through unscathed and set about fighting through the field. The next few laps were about consolidation with most drivers holding station. Thomas then began to put his foot down taking 7th place with consummate ease and then closing the gap to 6th. Over the next few laps the positions between cars 6th, 5th and 4th changed at almost every corner! With 2 laps to go Thomas made a swift move on the inside to take 4th place much to the delight of the travelling fans. However by the end of the penultimate lap Thomas found himself back in 5th but another daring move and a mistake by the car in front, once again gave him 4th place but this is Motorsport and right at the last corner the 5th placed car had slightly better traction pipping Thomas to the line and 4th place. But we were not to be too downhearted as the top was reversed on the grid for race 2 meaning Thomas and the Blue Blur would start the next day in pole position.
It was a very early start for the TR Motorsport Racing Team for Race 2 with the #29 car on the grid at 8.40am. As Thomas started in pole position a clear track lay ahead of him as the lights went out, however, such is the high skill level of the drivers in the TSS that they were 4 abreast by turn one, Thomas somehow held traction and position and charged up the main straight with the chasing pack tight behind. As the second lap began a relentless Honda Jazz nipped inside to take the lead but a few laps later Thomas tried a daring move around the outside of turn 3, nudging the Honda in front but was forced onto the grass dropping him back to 5th. Thomas with Viking blood running through his veins was not going to give up, he quickly took back 4th and made his final charge for third almost gaining 2nd place. However it wasn't meant to be and third place was the final result. Thomas recorded the 2nd fastest lap time of the race to go with his fastest lap of race 1. It was a solid start to the TSS season whilst proving to be one of the team’s most challenging yet. Thomas and the team would like to thank all the sponsors, guests and fans who made the trip to support.
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