After the trip across to Malaysia Sepang F1 circuit in April, it was a welcome return to Thailand and the Buriram International circuit for rounds 3 and 4 of the TSS series with our TA2 cars.
Friday was the first official practice day, and it wasn’t long before the drivers were switched on to the circuit setting faster and faster lap times. A couple of the teams had changed drivers for the Buriram venue. Coming into rounds 3 and 4 Jaylyn teamed up with Paul Manuell, Craig Corliss with Don Paster, Rafael Galiana with Na Songkhla, Nathan Blight joined Steve Fitzsimmons. The early pace was set by Jay and Paul in the Mustang, who eventually claimed the first spot, for the Tecpro Idemitsu Racing team, almost 2 seconds in front of the second place. Craig and Don in the Camaro, Tecpro Idemitsu Racing came second with Michael and Yongboon in the Mustang, Innovation B-Quik car claiming the third spot. After a short break practice, 2 got underway. It was a repeat performance from the second session with Jay and Paul taking the first spot in an almost identical time to 1st practice 1.41.864. Maxime and Gregory in the AF racing team Mustang came second, with Craig and Don winning the third spot.
Once again a dry circuit greeted the drivers for the first of 2 official practice sessions to decide the grid positions for Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon races. It proved to be a repeat performance from Friday Jaylyn Robotham, and Paul manual set a breakneck speed to claim the pole for the afternoon race. But a second place with a brilliant drive was Silipa Teeranti and Grant Supaphongs in the Pt Maxnitron racing team, with Craig Corliss and Don Pastor a close third. The first 3 spots were separated by a fraction of a second.
Race time 4 pm Saturday 8th June. There was a spectacular start to the opening race with a rolling start and a full head of steam the Innovation B-Quik car 26 spun into Greg in the Af team car, subsequently Eitan Zidkilov in the Nanami Racing car took evasive action but unfortunately collided with the barriers and it was an early retirement and a safety car. This also put Greg and the AF racing team at the back of the field.
The race re-started only for the Maxnitron car challenging Jay was too hot into the corner challenging for the first position and spun out. The safety car had tightly bunched the field, the standing after just a few laps, Jay car 29, Craig car 88 and Michel Freeman car 55. Over the next few laps, the Maxnitron made its way with the field quickly claiming the 5th spot, it wasn’t long before they made further progress moving up to 3rd spot. In the meantime car, 13 Rafael had to come into the pits but was quickly out again. Once the race officials viewed the first lap incident, they decided to give a drive-through penalty to car 11 AF racing. Raf and car 13 was the first car to come in at the interval but almost immediately had to stop on the exit of the pits with a broken door eventually getting underway.
All the other cars from the front runners came in apart for car 63 the Maxnitron decided to say out to try and claim a further advantage. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case and once they had come into the pits for the changeover and the race got back underway, they had slipped to 5th position. Lap 16 saw car 29 again in the lead, 88 second and 55 third which had fought their way up through the field. The race finally settled down on lap 22 with gaps opening up between the top 3 and the rest of the cars. The cars raced fast and furious, getting up to a top speed of 257 kilometres an hour.
In the meantime, Cem car was making good progress car 35 pulling up to 4th. Pushing constantly and hurting his tires Cem spun after a great battle with the Maxnitron on lap27 dropping him down the field. The AF racing team make their way up the field to 5th but is then passed by the Maxnitron. In the meantime car, 13 Rafael was blacked flagged for an earlier pit lane infringement.
The top three as they had done for the last 6-7 laps finished in the same order. Great result for Jaylyn and Paul car 29 first, Craig and Don car 88 second and Michael and Yongboon third. Cem on the last lap still managed to finish after one of his tires exploded crawling over the line. Another great race by all the cars.
Sunday’s race got off to a clean rolling start, but it wasn’t long before pressure from Jousse in car 11 for AF Racing managed to pass car 29 Jay for the lead. Don in car 88 kept close in third place. As a result of the passing manoeuvre, Jousse managed to loosen his back bumper which started to come away. Car 4 had an early pit stop, but it wasn’t long before they re-joined the race again. The race quickly settled down to an even race with most of the cars lapping at 1.44. Not bad for these TA2 monsters that weighed in around 1100kg with a V8 engine. The pace started to quicken, and on lap 9 Jousse put in the fastest lap of the race 1.42.83 which on the next lap went even faster 1.42.777 closely followed 2 seconds behind by car 29 lapping at 1.42.779. Car 55 and 63 were already trailing behind 18 seconds behind lapping at 1.45. Lap sees the pit window open, and the leaders see the opportunity to come in and car 11 have the rear bumper taken off which was slightly hampering its progress. Jay car 29 remains out for another lap to gain a little advantage.
As with the new one hour format coming into the pits for a change of driver always has its problems. Some teams are faster than others with the changeover. After all the cars have their compulsory stop and settle down to the final half of the race, the lead had changed hands again car 55 Michael Freeman in the Innovation B-Quik was first car 29 Paul second and Greg car 11 third. All cars raced very close over the next few laps with Jay taking the lead in car 29. There is only 1.16 between the top three cars. Pushing too hard Greg then spins car 11 out into the gravel, as a result, gets stuck and a safety car is despatched leaving the field to close up. The penalties are coming thick and fast for an earlier racing incident, car 29 Jay is given a drive-through, so he loses the lead, Eitan is given a stop and go for 3 seconds as part of his involvement in the incident.
The lead positions change completely on lap 26 Craig car 88 is first Grant car 63 second and Raf car 13 is third. Cem has no luck again and is having tyre problems looks like he might have to finish on 3 tires again. Lap 29 see Raf amazingly push and take the lead with Craig slipping to third. With the tires at their limits we see a dramatic finish Raf pushing hard spins Grant slows just behind while Craig car 88 sees his chance and takes the lead. Raf is out, and Craig carries on to take the checkered flag and wins. The Maxnitron and Grant car 63 takes 2nd place and amazingly Jay car 29 fought his way back from the drive-through to gain 3rd position.
Fantastic race to all the drivers.