Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil is determined to retake their lead in the drivers’ championship at the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand this weekend. Only one point separates Pepe Oriola from first place in the standings and he is hoping to make a successful start to the Asian leg of the season after returning from the summer break. James Nash sits just behind in third place and will be one of the strongest contenders for not only a podium but a first place finish at the Thai track. Sergey Afanasyev will be hoping to secure another podium at the Buriram circuit this year and is focused on returning to the great form that he has shown on numerous occasions throughout the season. Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s competition bid will be further strengthened by Leo Beer who are partnering with the team in Thailand. The three SEAT Leons will sport striking new liveries and all three drivers are intent on sweeping the podium to ensure that Leo Beer is proudly represented in front of their loyal home fans.
After yet another podium in Sochi, Oriola is well prepared to return to Buriram where he scored a win and third place finish last year. While he tasted some success in Sochi, the Spaniard will not have to carry any additional ballast in Buriram, giving him the edge over season rival Stefano Comini, who will be carrying the full 30kg. Oriola will be utilizing his weight advantage to gain the upper hand and he is hoping to kick start the final part of the season with another podium performance in Thailand.
Despite some bad luck, Nash has put in some incredible performances to climb back up to the pointy end of the drivers’ standings. He is now in a perfect position to make the jump on Oriola and Comini in Buriram, and seize the TCR International Series championship lead once again. Also running without ballast this weekend, Nash will be able utilize every ounce of performance from his #54 SEAT Leon, which will greatly help his championship campaign. Although it will be Nash’s first time at the track, he will be working hard in the early sessions to prepare for an all-out assault during qualifying to gain a crucial head start on his opponents.
Afanasyev has also found success at the Buriram circuit and will be using his past experience to assist in his challenge over the rest of the TCR field. The Russian has experienced some ups and downs lately but has found renewed determination after regrouping during the summer break. He acknowledges that he needs to push his performance to the limit this weekend to regain ground on his teammates. While currently seventh in the standings, a strong weekend in Thailand could launch Afanasyev back up the ladder and prepare him to enter the championship fight in time for Macau.