Raldorf Reigns Supreme in Bang Saen
Thailand Super Series
by Earl Brown photos care of www.motorsport fans.in.th
“If we learn from each success, and each failure, and improve ourselves through this process, then at the end, we have fulfilled our potential and performed well” Ferdinand Porsche
After the dramatic events that unfolded in Rounds One and Two of the Thailand Super Series in Buriram, it was time to get to grips with the tight twisty streets of Bang Saen in Chonburi. The Bang Saen street race is like no other in Thailand, a favourite of the drivers and one where concentration is vital in order to keep you away from the unforgiving walls. This quiet little fishing village comes alive for one week as teams from across the globe join the event and are cheered on by more than 200,000 spectators over the course of the week.
Before any thoughts of Bang Saen began, the UNIXX – TR-Motorsport had held a test day at the Bira International Circuit on the outskirts of Pattaya. The purpose of this test was to confirm that the fuel pressure problems that arose in Buriram were now fixed and to give Thomas, The Danish Dynamo much-needed track time in the Porsche 997. The team completed over 70 laps with no issues to report and Thomas, although very tired felt a lot more comfortable with the car and its setup. A sterling job by the B-Quik Racing Mechanics, who, after Buriram worked tirelessly to replace numerous parts associated with fuel pressure.
The Team arrived in Bang Saen early in the week to begin preparations and everything was looking good for the weekend ahead. Due to the extra busy schedule this year the GTM & GTM+ Cars would share Free Practice with the GTC class which resulted in a very heavily congested track. Thomas struggled to find the space for a clean lap as the faster GTM cars passed him around the circuit so he decided to complete just three race pace laps before pulling into the pits to make adjustments to the setup and prepare for session two. Even though the track resembled a busy Friday in Bangkok, Thomas still set a very credible time of 1.47.131 putting him 2nd in class. Session two was a vast improvement on the first session, after a few tweaks to the setup Thomas ventured out early to try and find some clean air and managed to get 7 competitive laps completed, a quick dash to the pits to make some minor adjustments followed by 3 more laps left Thomas with a fastest time 1.43.804 in the GTC Class.
After the data from Free Practice was analysed it was apparent that Pole Position was well within the reach of the team, it would all depend on if Thomas could get a clean lap and the safety car wasn't deployed which could shorten or even end the session. Again Thomas ventured out early to try to gain an advantage and it seemed to have worked until a few slower cars on the track hampered his first few attempts, however, as the session progressed Thomas found himself in space and set a blistering lap of 1.43.355 breaking the lap record and putting the car firmly in Pole Position for Races 1 & 2.
Thomas, well known for his good starts delivered once again making the perfect getaway up the main straight. Although Thomas seemed to have everything under control he had to keep pushing as the second place driver and Team Mate Khun Pete in the Porsche GT4 was now setting fastest laps and was beginning to gain on the #29 Porsche. Thomas responded by setting fastest laps himself and a new lap record of 1.42.766 as he hurtled around the street circuit and increased his lead. Even when the inevitable safety car appeared and bunched the field up, the chasing cars could do nothing to catch the Porsche. Thomas gave a masterclass in precision driving around the beach resort hitting every apex perfectly and following the optimum line with every lap. The victory came at a canter and with it 20 vital points in the race for the drivers' championship. Team Mate Khun Pete, followed up with a second place to help the Porsche duo also claim the Team Trophy for Race 1.
Due to the success in Race 1, an extra 30 kgs were added to the car this was on top of the 25 that had already been added due to the results in Buriram, this totalled to an extra 55 kgs making the car a lot trickier to handle and leaving absolutely no room for error. A fresh set of Yokohama tires were put on the car to help increase the grip and try to negate the effects of the extra weight. Another trademark start from Thomas left with him a small gap from the second place Toyota, driven by Khun Manat. The extra weight was causing the car to slide which allowed Khun Manat to close each time and forced Thomas to push that bit more. The safety car was deployed, again bunching up the field leaving Thomas under pressure from the Toyota, however, as the lights went green once more Thomas was able to manage the gap all the way to the chequered flag and claim another 20 points. Thomas again set the fastest lap of the race albeit nearly one second slower than his lap in Race 1 due to the extra weight.
After the stunning performance in the Beach Resort of Bang Saen Thomas and the team are now just 2 points behind Khun Manat in the race for the Driver’s Championship and are leading the Team Championship by 11 points from Team Toyota. There are now 4 races left with a maximum of 80 points to race for so everything is wide open and it promises to be a very exciting climax to the Thailand Super Series 2017. UNIXX – TR-Motorsport will next be in action at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for Rounds 5 & 6 of the Thailand Super Series August 17-20.
For more information on the team visit www.tr-motorsport.com and follow them on Facebook, search TR Motorsport Thailand. For Race footage and other videos from the team check out their very own YouTube channel search TR Motorsport.