The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand Under Royal Patronage organized a special event that allowed the Thai motorsport community to come together as one to pay respect and offer condolences to the recent passing of His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Meanwhile on two wheels, “The Tour of Bangsaen 2016” is a brand new 115 km cycle race that has been rescheduled to take place on 5th February 2017 and is promoted by Racing Spirit. It complements the Bangsaen Grand Prix and builds on the huge success of the Bangsaen Criterium, which has kicked off Sunday mornings at the Grand Prix weekend for the last two years and attracted a plethora of professional riders and teams.
Winning the Thailand Super Series [TSS] Super 2000 title means you are a pretty special driver. It’s traditionally been the most competitive racing category nationally; always highly popular with the fans as the drivers rub paint, and the roll call of champions backs that up. At Bira Circuit back in September Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya added his name to that list and he did it with two rounds still to take place.
We will welcome a new name to the TCR Thailand ranks next month in Bangsaen – Douglas Khoo. The Malaysian driver is relatively new to racing but he’s racked up a lot of experience already and interestingly he’s fully onboard the TCR concept. He’s also broken the mould in Asia in endurance racing as he’s just driven a TCR SEAT to success in the Sepang 12 Hours.
B-Quik Racing is tweaking its driver roster for next month’s 10th Anniversary Bangsaen Grand Prix, bringing Ian Ross Geekie into its Super Car GTC lineup. While he’s certainly a new face to the team and to the cockpit in TSS, he isn’t at all new to the Asian motorsport paddock (and it will in fact be his second time racing at Bangsaen having competed here in 2012) as he has been deeply involved in the sport across the region for several decades both as a driver and directing from the pitwall.
A moment for motorsport to reflect and pay its respects
The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand Under Royal Patronage organized a special event a week last Sunday afternoon that allowed the Thai motorsport community to come together as one to pay respect and offer condolences to the recent passing of His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The event was held on the large apron at IMPACT’s Lakeside in Muang Thong Thani and focused on bringing 89 cars together in the shape of the Thai numeral nine “๙” as well as spelling out the ‘RAAT’ acronym “รยสท” in Thai letters thanks to the formation of a large contingent of students from Taweethapisek School, Thonburi, that also joined, arriving on more than half a dozen buses. The RAAT was represented by President Somporn Suebtawilkul, the board of directors and many VIPs including TSS President Sontaya Kunplome.
The racecars brought together represented all levels of national motorsport, from Super Car GTM and GTC, through TCR Thailand and Super 2000 all the way to club and grassroots level. Very capably representing GTM was the overall championship leading Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo of Sarun Sereethoranakul as well as the Amateur class leading Porsche 991 GT3 Cup of Paul Kanjanapas. Also in the GTM mix were the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup machines of their teammates, respectively, Saravut Sereethoranakul and Naputt Assakul.
In fact all the major race series were represented on the baking hot concrete apron: Thailand Super Series, RAAT Thailand Endurance Championship, Toyota Motorsport’s One Make Race, Grand Prix Racing League and Toyo 3K Racing Car Thailand as motorsport seamlessly blended together as one to honour and pay respects. The letter was even tipped by half a dozen electric karts from the adjacent IMPACT SpeedPark.
TSS Vice President Preeda Tantemsapya explained the objective of this occasion. “This is our tribute to the passing away of our beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama 9, and thanks to Paul [Kanjanapas] the owner of IMPACT SpeedPark and to Muang Thong Thani in general for supplying us with a nice facility to do this event.”
“But much more than that we would like to thank the many racers who brought their racecars to join eighty nine cars that made up the nine figure in the Thai numeral,” he continued. “Not only that thanks also to all those in RAAT, President Somporn, Mr Sontaya Kunplome and the rest of the board members including the staff who put this event together.”
Other GTM standouts fanned out in the No 9 shape included the two red and white factory run Toyota 86s driven by Nattavude Charoensukhawatana and Nattapong Horthongkum which led out a big presence from Toyota including a string of cars from its popular ‘One Make’ race series – which will be supporting TSS as usual in Bangsaen next month.
Preeda was pleased with how everyone had immediately thrown their weight behind the event once the idea had been floated. “This is just something to show our feelings of deep respect,” he noted. “Although it was put together during a busy weekend the participation and assistance we have received from Thai motorsport drivers and team owners has been amazing and we have been able to draw all these cars in to make the figure nine in a very short period of time. That this has come together so quickly and so well I think is due to the fact we all see the same the importance of remembering the passing away of our beloved King.”
Countdown underway to inaugural Tour of Bangsaen
“The Tour of Bangsaen 2016” is a brand new 115 km cycle race that has been rescheduled to take place on 5th February 2017 and is promoted by Racing Spirit. It complements the Bangsaen Grand Prix and builds on the huge success of the Bangsaen Criterium, which has kicked off Sunday mornings at the Grand Prix weekend for the last two years and attracted a plethora of professional riders and teams. The Bangsaen Criterium will continue into its third year, once more opening up the Sunday morning activities.
Now comes the Tour of Bangsaen 2016, a dramatic new standalone event that continues to build upon Bangsaen’s ‘Hub of Sports’ initiative and which has already captured the imagination.
The ‘Racing Class’ will be split into Class A for male and Class B for female, with three classes for male riders (Open, up to 40 years of age and over 40 years of age) and two classes for females (Open and up to 35 years of age). Both Class A and Class B will complete the full 115 km course and only road bikes will be acceptable.
Class C has been dubbed the ‘Leisure and Sightseeing’ category and will run over 75 km and be open to anyone. Three rest spots will be provided on the route. The halts will be at Bang Phra Reservoir, Khao Kheow Golf & Country Club, and Bang Phra Reservoir Fishery.
The organisers’ made 4,000 starting places available and such was the interest that the class filled up very fast. To make participation in the ‘Leisure and Sightseeing’ class extra special the organisers’ will give participants a souvenir trophy, water bottle, bag and bandana as well as an exclusive Tour of Bangsaen bicycle shirt while food and drinks are also included.
In the professional classes there will be excellent prizes to fight for. The winner of Class A Open will a earn 50,000 baht prize as well as the Cipollini NK1K Tour of Bangsaen Limited Edition bicycle, the only example in the world, which is valued at valued at 900,000 baht. The second placed rider in the Class A Open will collect 30,000 baht while third place will be worth 20,000 baht. There will be cash prizes in the female category as well with the winner of Class B Open bagging 30,000 baht and a Cipollini RB1K bicycle frame. The sub categories in Class A and Class B will also enjoy cash prizes.
The Open Class winners will receive the famous Yellow Jersey while there will also be competitions during the race for the King of Sprints (Green Jersey) and King of the Mountains (Polka Dot Jersey).
Safety is assured to adhere to the best international standards as the Thailand Super Series Safety Team, so used to the rigours of overseeing the Bangsaen Grand Prix, will be drafted in to manage operations over the course during the day.
TSS President Sontaya Kunplome first introduced the Tour of Bangsaen 2016 during a press conference held at Bangkok’s Em Quartier shopping mall last year, introducing the cycle race alongside Narongchai Kunplome, the Mayor of Saensuk Municipality, who has put his weight being the new initiative. The event was then rescheduled from its original date due to early 2017.
Well it would be slightly difficult to mistake him for a native American warrior, certainly he wears an FIA homologated race helmet rather than a flamboyant headdress. But Super 2000 is a category exclusively reserved for warriors and only the most fierce and brave prosper here – and he’s the ‘last’ of a line of worth champions as the cutthroat category will be reborn next year (see full details in next edition of TSS News)
Winning the Super 2000 title means you are a pretty special driver. It’s traditionally been the most competitive racing category nationally; always highly popular with the fans as the drivers rub paint, and the roll call of champions backs that up. In the first three completed seasons of Thailand Super Series, 2013-2015, the Super 2000 title had been secured by Tin Sritrai and Pasarit Phromsombat – that’s illustrious company for anyone to be joining.
However, at Bira Circuit back in September Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya added his name to that roll call – and he did it emphatically, only rarely in Super 2000 has a champion been crowned during the penultimate round of the season. However Kittipol did it with the two races in Bangsaen next month – and where there is a maximum of 40 championship points on offer – still to spare. That perfectly sums up his year; he came into this season straight off the back of his first victory in Super 2000, which came at ‘Bangsaen 2015’, where in fact he won both races, and he simply never looked back.
Kittipol turned up this season superbly prepared. His fitness levels were impeccable as he’s added a second string to his bow alongside racing by becoming the paddock’s pukka ‘marathon man’. Mentally he has Super 2000 worked out to a tee while in terms of his car, once again driving a Honda Civic FD, he chose to pursue absolute reliability over trying to squeeze extra horses out of it – when a championship is fought over just eight races even a single DNF can crush title aspirations. He didn’t put a foot wrong all season and the rest is history.
At Bira Circuit he played a careful game focused around the needs of the classification, as he explained afterwards. “My strategy for the weekend was to collect as many points for the championship as possible which meant finishing the races, not really aiming for outright wins as that would have been difficult with a heavy car and a bumpy track that would punish you if you are too aggressive,” said Kittipol. “Qualifying fourth was a little disappointing, it was the best I could do, but I got moved up to third as [Pattarapol] was penalised three places.”
That lined Kittipol up for the first race of the weekend on second row of the grid although he’s got more used to being at the front so far this season. “I started the race okay and [Chayut’s] engine blew on the first lap so I moved up to second,” he said. “[Pattarapol] caught up with me and I tried to keep him behind but it meant pushing the car very hard. Besides, [Munkong] was getting away up front so I had to let [Pattarapol] through as he was much faster and can hopefully catch up with him. I had to go onto the gravel to avoid spinning cars but luckily there wasn’t too much damage. After the restart, I just kept to my own pace to make sure I finish the race in third.”
That third place finish handily equated to the points for second as Pattarapol wasn’t registered to score any and with his only serious remaining rival, Toyota’s Manat Kulapalanont, retiring from the race it left Kittipol poised on the brink of securing the title. His rival’s chances were at the extreme end of any mathematically possibilities – but the title still wasn’t official his.
“On Sunday I started third again,” Kittipol continues. “I got squeezed on to the grass at the start but luckily did not lose any positions. It was very hard to pass the cars in front. [Munkong] caught up and managed to go down the inside in Turn 1. [Munkong] tapped [Ekprawat] and I was afraid I would get caught up so I lifted and lost two positions. I managed to claw back two positions by over taking [Ekprawat] and [Phatwit]. Then [Munkong] had some kind of a problem and slowed near the end of the race. I passed him and finished second.”
That was game, set and match for the title – although it took a bit of time for Kittipol to realise that. “I thought I had a 40 point lead over the Toyota of Manat going into Bangsaen – which pretty much meant I would have secured the championship as he would have to win both races at Bangsaen while I didn’t finish in the top ten for me to lose the championship,” he said. “However, when the official points were announced, I saw that [Pattarapol] did not get any points this year due to joining mid-season, which meant I have officially secured the championship no matter what the outcome is in Bangsaen.”
A perfect mix of speed, tactics and intelligent thinking combined with slightly conservative and reliable car has been the ticket to the title and clearly he’s delighted to have ‘got the job done’. “It’s been a good year for me this year having secured two firsts, two seconds and two thirds – and more importantly finishing all the races so far,” he reckons. “That was the strategy that we aimed for – to finish the races while not aiming for outright wins. We sacrificed power for durability for the engine while we changed the gearbox to a sequential to prevent a miss-change but haven’t quite got the gearing right for this lower powered engine. And of course, driving as conservatively as fast as possible – if that makes sense! It worked. And we have secured the championship! I’m very happy indeed.”
It’s been a very steady but quite relentless rise to the top for Kittipol – he’s certainly come an awful long way since he used to potter around Bira Circuit in a classic racing Alfa Romeo Giulia 105. Clearly too he’s still got a long way further to go with his racing career, this is just the first big ‘prize of that journey, and if he returns to Super 2000 next year he’s going to be the benchmark that everyone else will have to beat.
Douglas Khoo to join TCR mix in Bangsaen
We will welcome a new name to the TCR Thailand ranks next month in Bangsaen – Douglas Khoo. The Malaysian driver is relatively new to racing but he’s racked up a lot of experience already and interestingly he’s fully onboard the TCR concept.
Douglas started racing in TCR Asia Series mid way through 2015, but still giving him time to make the trip to the Thai round in Buriram and then t contest the season finale in Macau. Before that his only racing experience had come in the Asia Classic Car Challenge, he started in that series in 2013 behind the wheel of a retro Datsun 240Z, so – in his own words “[TCR] was a big change in driving style as well as new circuits to learn.”
With a year and a half in the highly competitive TCR Asia Series now behind him – and now having just taken delivery of the latest MY2016 specification SEAT Léon TCR, Douglas will again in 2017 take up the challenge in the pan-Asian series – but he’s now set to add TCR Thailand to his racing calendar, starting with the rescheduled 2016 season closer in Bangsaen next month.
So why TCR Thailand? “The decision to race in Thailand this year was based on the need to have as much racing seat time as possible, given my lack of experience,” he explains. “As our first SEAT had a DSG [gearbox], it made sense to race in TCR Thailand. Having raced with some of the Thai drivers last year, I find that I have a lot to learn from them.”
Douglas, who is reasonably familiar with the unique demands of street racing, is looking forward to getting out on track at the Bangsaen Grand Prix for the first time – albeit he admits he will have a lot to learn. “I am looking forward to racing at Bangsaen but am also petrified giving the tightness of the circuit,” he says. “I have never done well at a street circuit, in spite of racing at Macau twice and Singapore once during the F1 weekend. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the race and hope to keep out of the barriers!”
One of the biggest selling points of the TCR concept is the longevity of the cars and components with competitors able to complete a full season without any need to change anything apart from consumables. That means TCR homologated cars are also more than ideal for endurance races – and Douglas put that straight to the test last month by lodging the first ever TCR entry in the grueling Sepang 12 Hours.
It was also just his second time contesting Asia’s premier endurance race. “In 2015 I raced with Jim Hunter in his Subaru WRX Impreza and this was the first time I [had] participated in an endurance race,” he says. “It was an experience and when we heard that we could race our SEAT in last year’s race, it just made sense to put a team together and see if the car would last. And it did. We did have some issues with the turbo boost sensors and took a while to pin point the issue but once we had that sorted out, the car ran smoothly and was competitive to the GT4 Ginettas.
The matte grey SEAT pounded through the 12 hours – which included plenty of rain and darkness – to reach the checkered flag intact and make a bit of history as not only the first TCR car to enter the Sepang 12 Hours – but to finish and thus win its class. The experience it seems ticked all the right boxes as Douglas adds: “I will certainly race this year again.”
Despite just a season and a half in TCR, Douglas now has three SEAT Léon TCRs, having just taken delivery of the latest upgraded MY2016 version, so it’s good to ask for a quick rundown on how this has unfolded? “When I started, we bought a new SEAT [with] DSG to race in 2015,” he says. “Subsequently, a second-hand DSG car came up for sale in Malaysia, which we bought with the intention of using it as a spare part donor.
“We then upgraded one to 2016 specification which features a better cooling system, sequential gearbox, larger fuel tank, etc., and this one we raced in 2016,” Douglas continues. “As we had inquiries to rent our cars, we decided that we’ll purchase another one and will field two cars in the Asia Series.” That leaves a third car free to contest TCR Thailand this year so keep an eye out for this Malaysian driver making his mark in the ‘Amateur’ class in Bangsaen.
Return to Bangsaen
B-Quik Racing is tweaking its lineup in both Super Car GTM and GTC for next month’s 10th Anniversary Bangsaen Grand Prix, bringing in one returning driver and adding one new face to the team.
The latter driver, Ian Ross Geekie, while he’s certainly a new face to the team and to the cockpit in TSS, he isn’t at all new to the Asian motorsport paddock (and it will in fact be his second time racing at Bangsaen having competed here in 2012) as he has been deeply involved in the sport across the region for several decades both as a driver and directing from the pitwall.
But it’s as a driver that Ian is signing up for Bangsaen, taking over the B-Quik Racing Porsche 996 GT3 Cup that Thomas Raldorf drove during the previous round of TSS, held at Bira Circuit back in September. With Attapot Sriprom continuing in the sister car that means B-Quik will be fielding a brace of entries in Super Car GTC once again.
The Australian brings vast racing experience and plenty of success; he started racing back in 1993 at the wheel of a BMW 3.0 CSL as well as with Porsche’s equally legendary Turbo and 2.8RS. That early period included competing in the famous Zhuhai Street Races while within just two years he was on the grid in Macau for the first time – so he’s certainly well versed at racing around the houses. In fact, five years ago he raced in the Colombo Night Street Race as well as making his first appearance at Bangsaen, which reaped rewards as he notched up a podium finish in the retro class.
While Ian is probably best known for racing and winning in classic cars, most recently in Asia Classic Car Challenge, he’s also contested the Sepang 12 Hours multiple times – and that will mean Bangsaen is going to be something of a ‘reunion’ as he last drove a Porsche 996 GT3 Cup nine years ago in South East Asia’s most prestigious long distance race, then known as the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER). In fact, that was the third time he drove a 996 in MMER having finished fifth overall on his debut in 2006 and then on the podium in third place a year later. Ian also finished the Dubai 24 Hour the same year in a 996, so it’s a car he’s very familiar with.
Now it’s time to join up the dots with B-Quik and return to the Bangsaen entry lists – and clearly Ian, one of the tallest figures in the paddock, is relishing this opportunity. “I’m really excited to be returning to race at the iconic Bangsaen Street Circuit and to be able to do it with a great team like B-Quik Racing makes it even more special,” he says.
“I have to thank Henk [Kiks] and the team for this wonderful opportunity and I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the B-Quik Porsche 996 GT3 Cup, a car with which I had success with in the past,” Ian continues. “TSS has become one of the region’s leading championships and the Bangsaen event is the absolute highlight. To be a part of this event is amazing and I can’t wait to get started.”
Source. Edd Ellison/Photo. RAAT