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The rapid growth of Super Car Class 2-GTM, which in just the three year existence of the Thailand Super Series era has turned into the most competitive and professional racing category in history Thai motorsport, will now be split into two classes for its upcoming fourth season.

Currently dubbed ‘Class 2B’, the new concept extends the reach of the category to allow gentleman, amateur and rookie drivers to contest a separate class that remains within Class 2-GTM. That decision will further boost the strength of sportscar racing in Thailand.

The news comes as the 2016 TSS calendar is announced and the series will replicate the successful format of last year with once again four events spread across three circuits. The season will start for a second consecutive year at Chang International Circuit, on 19-22 May, before making a return trip to the North East two months later, on 7-10 July; this year the second date of the season is moving to a slot one month earlier and that will perfectly smooth out the calendar. The penultimate round will, as usual, take place at Bira International Circuit, on 8-11 September, before the year concludes on the Bangsaen Street Circuit. The date for the Bangsaen Thailand Speed Festival 2016 will be announced shortly.

Meanwhile, over the last nine years it’s certainly become a matter of fact that only the very best drivers win races in Bangsaen, if you can claim victory on these streets then you can certainly go on to win anywhere else. Each year new heroes are born in Bangsaen, drivers that stand out from the pack as they head on their way to greater things. The last edition of the ‘Speed Festival’ was to prove no different.

Arguably the biggest standout driver of the last edition was Khun Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya. He didn’t just race to a double victory, two wins from two races, but he did it in the most close fought category on the programme – Super 2000 where just making it to the checkered flag relatively unscathed is a victory in itself.

Finally, Super Production enjoyed two nailbiting races in Bangsaen and the destiny of the title went to the final race of the weekend. Just like was the case last year it was ultra close, Khun Chattraphol Jiemvijid emerged as the champion with a 2 point cushion in the final points classification. The actual race wins were split between Khun Anon Rodprasert and Khun Settasit Boonyakiat.

Super Car Class 2-GTM set to split

The growth of Super Car Class 2-GTM has necessitated continual evolution to the format and for its fourth season further improvements are on the horizon. The latest change comes because the diversity in terms of drivers has broadened so far; the category includes young pro level hotshots chasing a future career in the big time and amateurs seeking to enjoy racing and improve themselves as well as novice drivers that are stepping up into Super Car for the first time.

Racing Spirit has responded to the differing requirements and, after consultations and a full evaluation of the available options, Class 2-GTM will be optimised this year to allow all levels of drivers to coexist and chase the reward of silverware. The result is the launch of Class-2 ‘B’, which will slot into the category and focus on amateur and novice drivers. That will allow Class 2-GTM to continue to its growth curve and enhance its appeal further.

“In Class 2 we have a big field and BoP [Balance of Performance] seems to be working well,” explains TSS Vice President Preeda Tantemsapya. “We are trying to improve it further and for this year all cars will have to be equipped with Motec.

“As far as the drivers are concerned we have a mix of semi-professional and gentlemen drivers who have less chance of getting on the podium,” he continues. “So with more entries this year we’re going to split the class up, similar to what the Porsche Carrera Cup does for professional and amateur drivers.

While TSS can follow established guidelines when it comes to the cars, with specific outside BoP metrics for example, that isn’t the case for drivers, Khun Preeda admits. “We can’t easily distinguish the drivers as if we use FIA gradings in Thailand all our drivers would be ‘Bronze’ level and so we would remain with just one class.”

A new dual level system will allow drivers to improve and ‘graduate’ to the top class. “Many of our drivers are gentleman drivers, they have improved a lot already or are trying to improve and we don’t want them to lose out, so we have looked at this issue very closely,” Khun Preeda says.

So TSS has come up with a bespoke grading system that will be decided on a case-by-case basis with overall guidelines as a benchmark. “We will look at the drivers that have been on the podium in the last three years and definitely drivers that have won races will be in Class A,” says Khun Preeda. “The advantage of Class B will be that the drivers are competing at an equal level, which is something that we really try to achieve and they will also be able to compete in the overall standings also.

“We will examine the drivers on an individual basis and look at them very carefully,” he notes. “So we will explain our decisions to them and hopefully it will make them more competitive. I think this will be a win-win for everyone.”

The inclusion of an additional class will also be extended to Super Eco, Khun Preeda reveals, allowing two split-levels of drivers of different capabilities to chase trophies in TSS’s ‘entry level’ category.

That decision will bring all the platforms below Super Car into line, each will now have at least one internal class to act as a ‘ladder’ to help drivers to move forward with their careers in a very progressive manner.

Ben Potter

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