TSS The Super Series made a step forward for Thai motorsport over the weekend as it joined the Singapore Grand Prix support race programme with two races, one in the wet the other in the dry that showcased the series, cars and drivers in front of an international audience.
The spoils in Saturday’s Race 1 went to Audi Sport Asia Absolute driver Andrew Haryanto, while there was a Thai winning driver and team in Sunday’s Race 2 as Kantasak Kusiri and YK Motorsports Billionaire Boy By Sunoco came out on top with their AMG GT3.
RACE 1 REPORT
As TSS The Super Series built up towards the mid-afternoon start of its first ever race on the iconic Marina Bay Street Circuit the heavens opened and the rain lashed down. Then it abruptly stopped and the teams had a big dilemma – slicks or wets? That decision would turn out to be one that would decide the destiny of the race.
Significantly, the two AMG GT3s on the front row, the #159 of Kusiri and the #99 Craft-Bamboo of Darryl O’Young cancelled each other out by both opting for slicks – as did virtually the entire field.
However, two key Audi drivers, Haryanto who was starting from P8 and Vincente Floriendo in the #55 B-Quik Absolute entry in P10, both plumped for wet tyres – and that decision would change the course of race for the former.
After the lights went green the expected AMG battle between Kusiri and O’Young certainly materialised with the pole sitter converting his starting advantage into the race lead with the Thai driver doing everything possible to keep his rival behind; they were side by side at points, rubbing door paint, as they rolled up their sleeves and slugged it out with slicks on a track that was stubbornly refusing to dry out.
Behind them Haryanto was the man on the move as the all-AMG battle as the front was immediately replicated by an all-Audi tussle just a few seconds further back
down the road as he locked horns with his Audi Sport Asia Absolute teammate Yasser Shahin, who had started on slick tyres.
The race saw many yellow flags waving in multiple sectors as the drivers grappled with the conditions while Porsche drivers, Yuey Tan and Adrian D’Silva, both indulged in spins.
Eventually the battle for P1 on the road would be settled as O’Young finally pressurised Kusiri into running wide and although the Thai gave the Tecpro barriers a decent whack he emerged unscathed, although by now the Hong Kong driver had romped down the road and out of sight.
Behind them, the Audi battle was also swiftly decided as Haryanto squeezed past Shahin and on a wet track with wet tyres, the experienced Indonesian was in his element, over the closing laps he would steadily reel in both the AMG cars, before clinically passing them to romp to the chequered flag 5 seconds clear to pull off a sensational – and somewhat unexpected victory.
An added bonus was his fastest lap of the race, which hands him pole for tomorrow’s Race 2!
O’Young, Kusiri and Shahin would finish second, third and fourth, covered by a second and a half, while the other big winner after starting on wets was Floriendo who battled his way up from his tenth place starting slot to finish fifth, 10.6 seconds down the road from the winner.
Floriendo bested the GTM class winning Porsche of Tanart Sathienthirakul who claimed P6 to grab class spoils, ahead of emerging lady driver Yin Yu Chen who drove an inch perfect race in the #91 Fist – Team AAI BMW M6 GT3 to finish a fantastic P7.
The rest of the top ten was comprised of Mak Hing Tak, who did very well to haul the Bentley GT3 round in these tricky conditions, Anderson Tanoto in the #89 B-Quik Absolute Audi, another star of the race having hacked his way through from field after starting at the back and the Viper Niza Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Romain Stephane Pierre Leroux who took GTC spoils.
RACE 2 RPEORT
Sunday afternoon’s Race 2 stayed dry – but it proved to be every bit as thrilling as Race 1. And when the dust settled there was a Thai winning combination to shout about as Kusiri in the YK Motorsports Billionaire Boy By Sunoco AMG GT3 made it two podiums from two races – but more significantly than yesterday’s P3, Kusiri won today’s second 25 minute race, rather comfortably in the end, although he really had to fight for that advantage during the opening stages.
At the green lights though it was the hero of yesterday, Haryanto, who coolly converted his pole position advantage into the race lead and he withheld huge pressure from behind for over a third of the race, eventually though he would be swamped and slip to P4 on the road.
Kusiri swept into the lead, having been door to door with Haryanto at points during an epic early battle for P1 while O’Young was in the thick of the action again and he moved up to P2, just 4 seconds back. Jeffrey Lee, meanwhile, in the second Craft-Bamboo AMG has clawed his way up to P5.
O’Young however suffered damage to the #99 AMG as a result of those frenetic opening laps and he slid back to third, soon trailing 14 seconds adrift of the lead and that elevated Shahin up to P2 while there was a spinning Ford Mustang for everyone to avoid, the #44 of Kel Kearns.
During the closing laps O’Young, who was nursing his damaged car home, again had to deal with Haryanto swarming all over him, in something of a reprise of Race 1, and again, the Indonesian would again pick off his Hong Kong rival, this time to nab the final podium step.
At the front, after 12 laps of hectic racing, an untroubled Kusiri swept across the line to record a sensational victory with ten seconds ticking away before Shahin arrived at the chequered flag to lead out Haryanto and make it an impressive 2-3 finish for the Audi Sport Asia Absolute “prize drive” winners that built on the latter’s win the previous day.
O’Young stroked the #99 AMG across the line to grab P4, two very impressive races, albeit ones that could both very easily have resulted in victory.
After suffering disappointment in Race 1, Tan made up for that with a superb P5 and he was also the first Porsche runner home. Floriendo was sixth, the second straight day that he mixed it up in the mid top ten positions all race long.
In seventh place Sathienthirakul won GTM for the second straight race, while eighth and ninth went to Anderson Tanoto (Audi) and Adrian D’Silva (Porsche) with the battling exploits of Henk Kiks (Audi) to climb up into tenth place making it all five Audi GT3s in the top ten. Meanwhile, Leroux won GTC for the second straight race.
Two races, one dry, one wet, both epic! TSS The Super Series can now head home with its mission accomplished.
Source. Edd Ellison
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