After his previous exploits in Buriram and now with an engine that had undergone a complete overhaul, both Tony and Unixx TR-Motorsport were in confident mood as they arrived early in the week at the Thai coastal town of Bang Saen.
Over previous years on the difficult street circuit Tony has always fallen just short of a podium place, mainly due to reliability issues, with the new overhaul and other improvements made to the DC 5, could 2018 be the year he finally ascends those steps?
Unfortunately, the week got off to the worst of starts, during the first practice session Tony was struggling to keep the car in a straight line leaving him unable to push the cars limits. Adjustments were made in between practice sessions but the issue still remained. A new steering rack was ordered from Bangkok and arrived the next day and was installed in time for qualifying.
Qualifying started and was soon stopped by a red flag as another car in Tony’s class had careered into the barriers bringing the session to a halt. As the session restarted more bad luck befell Tony as the car was significantly down on power without any obvious reason. The veteran racer is not one to give up and still drove his heart out to take a respectable 8th place on the grid for Race 1. The team were once again left to reflect on what might have been had the car been on full power.
The decision was made to open the engine and after informing the stewards the team of mechanics got to work and soon discovered a blown head gasket that had further damaged the engine. The amount of work needed to repair the engine exceeded the time available, with this in mind the engine was replaced with the spare K20 engine overnight.
Due to breaking the engine seal and replacing the engine Tony would start at the very back of the grid and hope to mount a charge through the field, those thoughts were quickly dashed. After taking several positions within the first three corners disaster struck again, the Honda slowed and then eventually stopped out on track. When the car returned to the pits it was found that a nut holding the throttle cable in place had come loose causing the retirement.
In a bizarre twist of fate, every car in the same class failed to finish the race so although Tony was dejected the damage to his championship challenge was minimised.
Race 2 was a completely different affair, this time the charge from the back came and the car held together with Tony showing the crowds that age doesn’t matter, storming through the field to take a very well deserved 2nd place and some valuable championship points to extend his lead in the title race.
Although not the weekend Tony and the team expected, to come away from it with a bigger lead in the championship is a great result. Thoughts now quickly turn to rounds 5 & 6 of the Thailand Super Series that will be held at the Bira International Circuit on the outskirts of Pattaya City on 31st August to September 2nd.
Source. TR Motorsport