The latest category to join the TSS programme is ‘Super Compact’; alongside TCR Thailand it made its debut last month in Buriram. This exciting new initiative has been designed to allow junior level drivers and teams to progress up the racing ladder. Apart from giving drivers exciting and capable cars to race, it challenges teams to develop their cars with the organisers’ applying BoP across the category to ensure fairness of competition.
Super Compact kicked off its inaugural ‘double header’ during the season opener in the North East last month and it’s already showing signs of hitting the mark. There were new faces alongside old faces, new cars alongside revitalised cars and the racing was close and exciting – two different winners emerged and there was a real tale to tell.
Thailand Super Series 2016 Rd 1, Buriram – Super Compact Race 1
A lot of eyes were following Super Compact as this new category made its debut and the first ever pole position was occupied by Khun Kajornsak Na Songkhla who had posted a 2:01.677 in the qualifying session to put the battle for the top spot to bed while Khun Pasarit Phromsombat, in the pretty new Honda CR-Z, lined up alongside.
The second row was led out by Khun Silapa Teeraniti in the #47 Sittipol Lipo K45 Toyota Vios, who also nabbed Class C pole position, with the red #55 Innovation Motorsport Mazda2 driven by Khun Michael Freeman, who pipped his teammate Khun Tachapan Vijittranon by eight tenths, alongside.
The 18-year-old lady racer was however a robust second quickest in Class C and she led out Row 3. Next to her was the third fastest car in Class C, the #19 KS Racing Honda Jazz driven by Khun Prommat Pattanamahakul.
At the green lights everyone got away cleanly but Khun Pasarit made a better start than the polesitter, Khun Kajornsak, to cut down the inside and take the lead into the first corner while the behind him Khun Michael also got a quick start and dived down the inside of Khun Silapa who came across to cover the line, the two made contact with the grey and green Vios being tipped into a spin. That allowed Khun Settasit Boonyakiat through into third and Khun Tachapan, unsighted by her teammate, lost a place to Khun Siraphop Natirojanachaicham in the #99 Honda City with Khun Silapa recovering to tuck in behind the second Mazda.
Khun Pasarit and Khun Kajornsak went side by side down the hill to Turn 3 but the CR-Z had the inside line and up the hill they were alongside each other again, this time though Khun Kajornsak snatched the racing line into Turn 4. Khun Pasarit outbraked him with a neat dive down the inside into Turn 5 but his return to the lead latest just metres as he ran wide and the Fiesta reclaimed P1 only to lose it as Khun Pasarit got the better slingshot out of the esses.
Khun Pasarit fended off Khun Kajornsak for the rest of the lap and as they crossed the start-finishline for the first time the Fiesta was tucked right in on the Honda but Khun Pasarit covered his rival’s attempted moves to get a clean line into Turn 1 and that gave him a couple of cars lengths as they headed down the hill. Khun Kajornsak took a look up the outside as they came back up towards Turn 4 but Khun Pasarit had the line very well covered.
As the leading duo completed the second lap they had already hauled out around 5 seconds on Khun Settasit in third who now had Khun Siraphop hassling him while a couple of cars lengths back Khun Michael had a similar cushion over his teammate who in turn had Khun Silapa for company. Into Turn 1 of the third lap and Khun Siraphop, now the comfortable Class C leader, was pushing Khun Settasit hard while Khun Silapa, on the back of Khun Tachapan, ran very wide and lost a couple of lengths as these two battled over P2 in Class C.
At Turn 3 Khun Silapa would spin off, he would have to turn the car around before rejoining and that ended his battle with Khun Tachapan – and his afternoon in fact as he became the race’s first retirement. On the fourth lap the battle for P1 was settled decisively as Khun Kajornsak pulled off with unpromising white clouds puffing out from under the Fiesta and that allowed Khun Pasarit to ease off the pace and cruise to the checkered flag. After several laps all over the back of Khun Settasit, Khun Siraphop finally got past when the Vattana driver had a big lock up into Turn 5 on lap 5 and ran wide.
At half distance while in fourth place Khun Settasit suddenly peeled off into the pits and after a short stop he rejoined, now in a distant fifth having lost around half a minute. Over the closing stages Khun Tachapan closed up on her teammate but wasn’t able to find a way past.
After 11 laps Khun Pasarit stroked the Honda across the line to make a bit of history – the first ever winner of a Super Compact race. Once Khun Kajornsak had departed he had it very easy, his margin at the end was 39 seconds over Khun Siraphop who won Class C.
Khun Michael was next home, a further 15 seconds back, to make it a very strong 3-4 overall finish for the factory supported Innovation Motorsport Mazda2 entries; the Australian was just one-tenth of a second though ahead of teammate Khun Tachapan who successfully bagged the runners up spot in Class C to earn herself a double trip to the podium.
Almost 40 seconds further down the road came Khun Settasit who, despite his short mid race pitstop, wrapped up the top five overall and clinched the last spot on the podium. Behind him came two more Honda racecars, namely those of Khun Witawin Sondthiraksa (Fit RS) and Khun Prommat (Jazz).
Thailand Super Series 2016 Rd 1, Buriram – Super Compact Race 2
The reversed top five of the grid saw Khun Settasit on pole with Khun Tachapan alongside. Row 2 comprised of her teammate Khun Michael and Khun Siraphop while Race 1 winner Khun Pasarit led out Row 3 with Khun Witawin alongside. Khun Prommat and Khun Silapa comprised Row 4 and finally a sure fire front-runner, Khun Kajornsak, started down on Row 5.
The order quickly established itself over the course of the first lap as Khun Pasarit grabbed the lead with Khun Kajornsak rapidly working his was up P2 as the pole sitter Khun Settasit locked into P3 while Khun Silapa ran off at Turn 5 and deep into the gravel.
At the end of the first lap it was Khun Pasarit with 2 seconds in hand over Khun Kajornsak but the Fiesta was flying and ripped a second and a half out of the CR-Z to cross the line with just a four tenths deficit. Khun Kajornsak then quickly got into the lead but Khun Pasarit wasn’t letting him get away and wanted the place back.
Into lap 5 it was side by side down to Turn 1 between these two out front and Khun Pasarit got the inside line, he was back into P1, but it wasn’t for long as Khun Kajornsak got a slingshot on him down to Turn 3 and now the Fiesta was back into the lead although the metallic blue CR-Z was all over its rear bumper into Turn 5.
Further back the two Mazdas were battling for fourth with Khun Michael having the advantage but Khun Tachapan was right on his tail and using her teammate to get a drag. Meanwhile Khun Siraphop’s engine was sounding very rough.
The next time round, lap 6, Khun Kajornsak had a couple of lengths advantage going onto the main straight and he covered Khun Pasarit from trying a power dive into Turn 1. However the RMI driver was still on his tail and very quick through the middle sections and was all over the Fiesta through Turn 5 again. Across the line for the sixth time and the gap was just three tenths of a second.
The battle for P1 was all about these two as Khun Settasit was by now 24 seconds down the road and he was having to watch his mirrors as the two Innovation Motorsport Mazda2 cars were at this point just a couple of seconds behind him.
Khun Pasarit was still hassling Khun Kajornsak but he didn’t quite have the pace and as they crossed the line to start the seventh lap the gap was four tenths but the CR-Z ran wide at Turn 1 and that cost the RMI driver a couple of seconds – could that be the race over for P1? Meanwhile further back Khun Siraphop pitted with his rough sounding City and the bonnet came up as his mechanics assessed the problem, his race looked to be over.
At the end of the eighth lap, two thirds distance, the gap as Khun Kajornsak and Khun Pasarit crossed the line was 2.554 seconds, that excursion at Turn 1 the previous lap had proved to be very costly and there was a lot of work if the latter wanted to pull himself back into the fight with the race now going into the closing stages.
Meanwhile the two Mazdas were still locked together and while they tussled with each other they were gradually narrowing the gap to Khun Settasit ahead, which was now down to 2 seconds dead, but the Vattana driver should have enough time in hand to maintain a cushion through the closing quarter of the race.
Next time around, with now just two laps to go, Khun Kajornsak pulled out a couple more tenths over Khun Pasarit and his advantage at the front had eased out to 2.952 seconds and then into the final lap it was up to 3.369 seconds, it really was game over for the top step of the podium.
The Mazdas though were continuing to lap nose to tail but Khun Settasit in third kept the gap steady at two seconds and so Khun Michael and Khun Tachapan were fighting for fifth overall.
Khun Kajornsak didn’t put a foot wrong over the final lap and eased through to a 2.169 second win to bag maximum points and offer the best possible reply to his unproductive Race 1. Khun Pasarit was happy to come home in second despite his ‘success ballast’ and rake in the championship points.
Three quarters of a minute down the road Khun Settasit claimed third place a couple of seconds up on the two Mazdas; they came across the line nose to tail, Khun Tachapan unable to find a way past her teammate Khun Michael despite trying to all race although she was happy to win her first ever Super Compact Class C race having finished as runner up the day before. The Australian though is an experienced hand, having cut his racing teeth in the truck world, and is no easy customer to get past and over the two days he had delivered the team it’s best results to date with the new-generation turbodiesel-powered Mazda2, switching this car to Super Compact is allowing it to be a much more competitive proposition. Khun Witawin was a further 12 seconds down the road with Khun Prommat wrapping up the classified finishers but more importantly that gave him second place in Class C.
In the overall championship Khun Pasarit has some daylight at the top of the standings thanks to the 35 points he bagged for his first and second places. That added up to an impressive debut for the CR-Z in Thai racing and this is a driver who knows how to win titles – he’s aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive TSS title in a third different class. Then come three drivers separated by just two points – Khun Michael (22), Khun Kajornsak (20) and Khun Settasit (20). Khun Tachapan rounded out the overall top five with 18 points.
In Class C Khun Tachapan has the advantage with a win and a second place from the weekend and she’s now on 35 points while Khun Prommat is second on 27 points. Due to his DNF in the final race, Khun Siraphop is third in the standings thanks to the maximum score of 20 points he picked up for winning the class in the first race.