However, this time there is a big twist as the headlining “Super Car” categories won’t be involved in the three days of competitive action, instead the support classes will take centre stage and that means for us the focus is exclusively on our “Young Driver Programme”.
The story is that with the three Super Car categories venturing to Malaysia for the opening round of TSS 2018 back at the end of March, this weekend will allow the support categories to play catch up – and it comes with an exciting ingredient as the premier national racing championship returns to Bira Circuit, the “Home of Thai Motorsport”, after a two-year absence.
That means the chase for honour rests with our “Young Driver Programme” roster. Namely, Narin Naeosathon will be driving the #26 Camaro TA2 in TA2 Thailand while Pongtanu Kamsai and Adisak Tangphuncharoen will be in our #25 and #26 Honda Brio, respectively, in Super Eco.
For more than three decades tight, twisty and cramped Bira Circuit has held an unshakeable place at the heart of our sport; it’s demanding and unforgiving, providing the perfect ingredients for our young drivers as they develop their racing skills.
Narin has had to make a huge step up this year. After two seasons in our Honda Brio programme, where the cars come in almost standard-specification and are only modified for safety, he’s graduated to the big and powerful ‘silhouette’ V8-engined racecars that are contesting the inaugural season of TA2 Thailand.
He’s exceeded our expectations during the three rounds and six races – held at Sepang, Buriram and Bangsaen – he’s contested so far this year but now he faces a wholly different proposition as he has to muscle this big brute around Bira Circuit.
Narin won’t going in blind though as he raced one of our Brios here when TSS previously visited in 2016 and last week enjoyed a test day in the Camaro TA2.
It’s going to be another big learning curve though for Narin but he will rise to the challenge. He’s been on the TA2 podium already this year – we expect him to be targeting further trips this weekend.
Although they hadn’t even sat in a racecar until six months ago, the finalists of our “Driver Selection Programme 2018”, Adisak and Pongtanu, arrive with recent track time here under their belts. The closing part of the three-phase selection process, to reduce ten finalists to a final four, saw the prospective candidates joining the TSS Academy (a racing school) at Bira Circuit while since then Adisak has taken part in the opening round of the RAAT Endurance Championship Thailand 2018 here in a Toyota Vios. So, they both have a good platform to build on.
Adisak and Pongtanu have met expectations during the first two rounds of Super Eco – the perennially popular entry level category on the TSS programme – both have reached the class podium and are going faster each time they get in the cockpit. We expect Adisak and Pongtanu to improve further this coming weekend and we hope to see them making a challenge for the podium.
The action at Bira Circuit kicks off on Thursday (30 Aug) with a full day of Paid Practice for all competitors. It gets serious on Friday (31 Aug) with Official Practice in the morning and then Qualifying in the afternoon where Super Eco is first up at 1405-1435 to decide its starting grid for Race 1 while TA2 Thailand rounds things out at 1725-1755.
The weekend sees a “double header” format for each class. Super Eco kicks off the first race day with its 17-lap opener at 1000 on Saturday morning (1 Sep) while TA2 Thailand’s Race 1 comes up at 1545 and will be 23-laps.
The final day, Sunday (2 Sep), sees Race 2 for Super Eco at 1140 while TA2 Thailand will conclude the event when its Race 2 goes to green lights at 1525; both races are the same distance as the previous day.
Narin Naeosathon: “It’s very excited to back here. It’s the first place where I started as a racing driver and it’s a racetrack where you have to dare to enjoy the speed. We’ve repaired the Camaro after Bangsaen and got ready for upcoming race. I had test day at Bira last week and if everything goes well I’m sure this race will be so much fun and also I hope here is an opportunity to get on the podium.”
Adisak Tangphuncharoen: “I’m very happy to race here again. Bira is a race track which needs a lot of driving skills. I have had experience here in the driver selection programme and RAAT endurance race in Vios but this is my first time in Brio so I’m very excited. I’ll do my best and hopefully I will get good results.”
Pongtanu Kamsai: “I’m back here again as a racing driver after I joined the driver selection programme in April. After I got on the podium in Bangsaen I’m expecting good results in upcoming race. However, I have a lot of things to learn about this circuit so I want to make the most out of this race. Certainly, I will try to do the best I can for the podium as well.”
Source. B-Quik Racing