Just before the stroke of 5 o’clock last Saturday afternoon Jerasak Kongplab tiptoed across the rain soaked finishline in Phuket to claim the “Vios Cup – Division 2” race win, his first ever victory and – most importantly from point of view of the big picture – the first ever victory for the “B-Quik Young Driver Programme”.
It was the perfect way to end to a short and sharp weekend that had kicked off the previous day, Friday, with free practice before winding up with a second practice session, qualifying and the race all on the Saturday.
Come the race and the young driver simply didn’t put a foot wrong on the 1.5 km temporary track, which was set up in Phuket’s Saphan Hin Park. This event was the fourth round of “Toyota Motorsport 2018”, the highly popular “one make” series, which was visiting the southern city for the eighth consecutive year.
After posting the second fastest time in qualifying, Jerasak lined up the #126 Toyota Vios on the outside of the front row of the “Vios Cup – Division 2” grid – and then, just as the cars came out of the paddock, the intensely hot and dry weather that had prevailed all week turned around and ominously dark clouds that had been steadily gathering all afternoon started to empty their contents on Phuket.
This was Jerasak’s first time here and his first racing speed lap in the wet here came when the lights went green. Several hundred metres after the lights changed, at the end of the long, straight run down to Turn 1, it all went off with two cars locking up, and, unable to take the 90-right turn, they headed straight for the barriers – crucially one of those two was the pole sitter. Jerasak however kept his cool, braked early as the conditions dictated and swept through Turn 1 and into the race lead.
It was a lead that he would retain for the next 20 minutes as mayhem broke out and cars went off the track everywhere.
Cool, calm and superbly collected the 22-year-old had to absorb pressure over the opening couple of laps before pulling out a manageable gap and driving an inch perfect race.
It was no mean feat for the young rookie to keep everything so neat and tidy for 15 rain strewn laps – but that’s exactly what he did, there were no mistakes as the black-and-yellow #126 Vios ticked off the laps. Unruffled by the carnage around him, Jerasak built up a by lead lap by lap – which eventually extended to 24.310 seconds by the time he took the chequered flag. He also posted the fastest lap of the race, in 1:18.344, set on lap 9.
That was the first win for the B-Quik Young Driver Programme while for Jerasak it comes just six months after he started his racing career – this was only his fifth-ever race event.
But the win certainly wasn’t just about Jerasak, the young technicians drawn from the B-Quik Service Centres that once again prepared the #126 Vios this weekend turned out a car that was capably set up and ready to win. Racing is a team effort and we won as a team, every single young team member playing a vital part in getting us across the finishline in P1.
It’s was also the best possible way to wrap up a hectic period for the B-Quik Young Driver Programme which has seen five races over three events spread across the last four weekends.
Jerasak Kongplab: “It was a very fun race! I started from P2 and it was raining and that made it harder for me. After the green lights at Turn 1 the car in front of me can’t turn and hit barriers so it was my big chance as I can control the car and get through. After that I’m leading the race but I have to concentrate and try to control the car because track is wet. After we finished the 15 laps it stopped raining as I got the chequered flag. I feel happy that I can get my first victory. I would like to thank you the team for giving me a very good car and a lot of advice and also say thank you to everyone for encouraging me.”