TSS The Super Series by B-Quik is all ready to kick off the 2023 season at a very hot and dry Buriram’s Chang International Circuit over the next three days, 21-23 April.
While the weather is very hot in the north east, it’s currently peaking at 40 degrees centigrade, it’s going to be just as sizzling on track with an explosive mix of top-level drivers and teams ready to go head-to-head for the glory across the four headlining Super Car categories: GT3, GTM, GT4 and GTC!
World class names, local heroes and rising young challengers that are spread across slick, professional teams, all means predicting winners is no easy game. And a former Formula One driver is in there too, superstar Markus Winkelhock with a family name that’s synonymous with achievement on track.
So, starting in Super Car GT3, and starting with B-Quik Absolute Racing as they have entered a four strong Audi R8 GT3 LMS evo II roster as they aim to build on a successful 2022 season, which netted them the Super Car GT3 Drivers’ and Teams’ titles.
B-Quik Absolute has blended their win proven line up with some fresh faces. The reigning Super Car GT3 champion, Akash Nandy, who sensationally clinched the crown last year in what was his rookie year in the series, will be joined by Adisak Tangphuncharoen, who graduates to GT3. “I am very proud of the partnership we had last year and super happy in extending that this year,” says Akash. “It looks like it’s going to be yet another competitive season ahead of us but we are definitely up for that challenge.”
Adisak, meanwhile, is a graduate of the B-Quik Junior Programme which aims to turn staff from their service centres into top level drivers. “It’s a big opportunity to step up in GT3 level and race together with Akash who is 2022 Drivers’ champion and Audi factory driver,” he says. “I’m very excited for the upcoming races.”
Then there is the continued pairing of experienced team owner Henk Kiks and young Sri Lankan hotshot Eshan Pieris, while back for a second season in GT3 will be former Philippines double GT champion Vicente Floriendo who teams up with Markus Winkelhock. Finally, from B-Quik Absolute there are a pair of new names to TSS in a brand-new Audi R8, Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Thailand rock up with their usual expansive operation spread right across the Super Car categories and in GT3 they will once again field a Lexus RC F for the hugely experienced pairing of Nattapong Horthongkum, a former racer in the ultra-competitive British F3, and Manat Kulapalanont.
Singha Motorsport Team Thailand will enter their usual Ferrari 488 GT3 for a pair of former Super Car champions, with team owner and lead driver Voravud Bhirombhakdi joined in the cockpit by of the Prancing Horse by Kantasak Kusiri.
The team has suffered a tough couple of seasons but the pace and podiums have been delivered so expect them to be reinvigorated and pushing for overdue wins.
Kantasak is one of the fastest drivers in Thailand today, he sensationally delivered victory for Thailand in the inaugural TSS The Super Series support races at the Singapore Grand Prix last year and combined with the guile and experience of Voravud this is a combination that can chase for the top step.
Viper Niza Racing will be back for a full season in their Aston Martin Vantage GT3, team owner Douglas Khoo combining as usual with regular partner Dominic Ang. The team took part with the new car in the closing TSS rounds here late last year, which was all about acclimatisation to this big and noisy V8 twin turbo beast.
With plenty of experience of the car on this circuit plus a run to the chequered flag in last month’s Sepang 12 Hours and clear flashes of real pace shining through, expect them to be bang in the reckoning.
In Super Car GT3 AM Earl Bamber Motorsport enters a brand new MY2023 Porsche 992 GT3-R for Indonesian driver Johanes Setiawan Santoso and New Zealand’s Reid Harker.
Reid drove the factory Lexus RC F in the final TSS round here last year so he’s sharp and up to speed on the circuit. “I’ll be racing this weekend with Setiawan Santoso,” he explains. “This will be our first time driving the new 992 GT3-R so we’ll be using this time to learn and develop the car before heading into the season.”
Finally in GT3, Taiwanese team Fist-AAI has rocked up with a brace of its BMW M4 GT3 machines, the first time these striking cars and team have been seen in a points scoring TSS race.
Turning to Super Car GTM and we need to kick off with the champions, the Sathienthirakul brothers, Tanart and Munkong, who are back and ready to defend their Drivers’ titles. The pair seem an unstoppable force in the category and their 992 GT3 Cup is a very well sorted proposition. Unquestionably they are the ‘combo’ to beat.
They are in fact the first of five Porsches in GTM, the German brand always the numerically strongest, while the second 992 GT3 Cup in the Pro-Am class is an intriguing entry. Fire Monkey Motorsports is a brand-new team and should be a real dark horse with an ambitious schedule and a cracking all-Hong Kong driver line up as the relatively new Simon Chan teams up with the experienced Shaun Thong.
Shaun is very fast young driver with an impressive career so far and he certainly should be bang on the pace, especially so as the Hong Kong based team arrives straight off the back of a decent run in the Sepang 12 Hours last month.
“I’m looking forward to starting my campaign in TSS this year with a full season entry,” says Shaun. “I’m glad to be joining Fire Monkey Motorsport, it’s a brand-new team founded in 2023 so this will be the just our second race after the Sepang 12 Hours. The grid is high quality and I’m looking forward to be fighting for potential results.”
The third Pro-Am 992 GT3 Cup is also going to be tough to beat with former Super Car Champion Kantadhee Kusiri pairing up with highly experienced Nattachak Hanjitkasem in the AAS Porsche entry which is a brand new MY2023 machine.
Kantadhee, the younger brother of Ferrari GT3 driver Kantasak, is very fast, very experienced and a born winner, he’s a former champion in both GTM (Porsche) and GT3 (Bentley) and a long-time driver for AAS, so expect fireworks when he’s in the cockpit as he doesn’t rock up for P2.
“I’m excited because I have a new car and want to see how the car is compared to the other cars,” Kantadhee says. “From testing it’s good, the setup is nice and it feels good.”
There are two further 991-generation GT3 Cup entries in the GTM ‘Am’ category from Alpha Factory and PT Maxnitron Motorsport while there are a brace of Lexus RC F GTM factory entries, including one for one of the most decorated drivers in Thai racing history, Nattavude Charoensukhawatana.
Finally in GTM there is a real dark horse in the shape of Singha Motorsport Team Thailand’s brand new Ferrari 488 Challenge EVO which will be driven by serial touring car winner Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya and promising youngster Supakit Jenjitranun.
Kittipol raced the team’s previous 488 Challenge in GTM a few years back so he should fit seamlessly into this new car, which will make its debut in TSS this weekend in GTM Am. “There was plan to upgrade the [Singha Motorsport Team Thailand] Honda Civic FK to race in the GTC class,” he explains. “The laws of physics meant it was going to be impossible to race competitively since all the other cars in the category are either rear wheel or 4-wheel drive; a highly tuned 2-litre turbo driving the front wheels will just annihilate the front tyres within a couple of laps.
“So, my plan as of last week was just to go and keep K. Voravud and the team company and run some laps of the circuit, actual running on foot, to rid myself of the Songkran fat I put on,” Kittipol adds. “That plan changed on Tuesday when I found out I would be driving the brand new 488 Challenge with [Supakit] this weekend. I’m looking forward to it!” It will be the first time the “EVO” version of the 488 Challenge has raced in TSS.
Mixing it up with the Porsches, Toyotas and Ferrari in GTM will be the PSC Vattana Lamborghini of Saravut Sereethoranakul and Afiq Yazid.
Super Car GT4 switches to a 1-hour format this year and breaks away from Super Car GTC to join the Super Car GTM grid so new horizons and opportunities to grow GT4 here beckon.
First up is the Toyota Gazoo Racing Thailand entered Supra GT4 in the hands of team owner Suttipong Smittacharch.
B-Quik Absolute weigh in with a Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport for Iaro Razanakoto and Chanon Asavasangsidhi. Iaro, the first Madagascan to ever race in TSS, drove this car at the tail end of last year and both drivers have enjoyed a lot of success as team mates in the Super Compact support category so expect them to get up to speed quickly.
Clear favourites in GT4 though have to be Dechathorn Phuakkarawut and lady racer Nattanid Leewattanavalagul in a Mercedes AMG GT4 entered by YK Motorsports BBR By Sunoco. This car looked sensational when it debuted in TSS at the tail end of last season and these two drivers are fast and accomplished so they will be the GT4 benchmarks.
Super Car GTC has a real mixed bag with many potential winners. The Ford Mustang TA2s have to start favourites as they swept up the title last year but also look out for Full Function’s rapid McLaren 570S, Tecpro Racing’s unique Daytona GT Coupe, a pair of official Supra A90s from Toyota Gazoo Racing Thailand, a Cayman GT4 from AAS Porsche and the new Filipino father and son team of Manasseh Manuel Caceres and Manuel Rafael Caceres who will drive a Toyota Supra Mk4 and Nissan GT-R R35 respectively.
Picking a winner in GTC is simply no easy task, that needs to wait until the first race shakes out on Saturday afternoon!
And race weekend will soon be on us! The schedule sees Free Practice sessions on Friday before Qualifying takes place Saturday morning, while the double header races play out on Saturday afternoon and across Sunday.
Source. FastTrack Media
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