Reliability issues snatch victory from Raldorf

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Thomas Raldorf (front centre) races his Unixx–TR-Motorsport team Porsche 911 into to the first corner of the Chang International Circuit in Buriram during the opening round of the Thailand Super Series.
Thomas Raldorf (front centre) races his Unixx–TR-Motorsport team Porsche 911 into to the first corner of the Chang International Circuit in Buriram during the opening round of the Thailand Super Series.

After all the pre-season hype the time had come for the Unixx–TR-Motorsport Racing team, based in central Pattaya, to take its rightful place in the Supercar Class of The Thailand Super Series at the end of April.  The new Porsche 911 (997) Generation 1 had arrived in the Kingdom in March and was quickly transferred to Bangkok to have all the modifications installed by the ever efficient B-Quik Racing mechanics and engineers.

The new Unixx–TR Motorsport livery wasn’t completed until the Wednesday before the first race weekend of the season, held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram from April 27-30.  Meanwhile Danish dynamo and principal team driver Thomas Raldorf had just three practice sessions to get used to the car and setup before qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Before the week began the team discussed expectations for the first races in the Porsche, it was agreed that a top 5 finishing position in both races was more than achievable and anything above that would most definitely be a bonus.  The opening laps of qualifying saw only a few cars on track with Thomas going fastest early on but as the session counted down and more seasoned drivers entered the fray he had to settle for third place on the starting grid, just 0.186 off the pole position time.

Saturday’s race 1 began with two false starts, however it was third time lucky and as the cars roared down the straight heading for the first corner, Raldorf dived up the inside leaving the other cars in his wake. From that corner onwards he began to pull away from the rest of the field and had soon built up a three-second gap from the Toyota GT 86 in second place.  With three laps to go and on the brink of a debut win tragedy struck!  A warning light on the dashboard indicated the fuel pressure was dropping and resulted in a loss of power from the engine.

Battling to stay in front on the final lap, Raldorf’s car was struck from behind by the chasing Toyota and went into a spin, eventually finishing up facing the wrong way down the track.  The Dane never gave up though and quickly fired the Porsche back up and completed the race finishing 5th, which then became 4th after a rival was given a 30-second penalty for causing the false starts.

The team arrived back at the track for Sunday’s race full of confidence.  Raldorf would start from pole due to getting the fastest second lap time in qualifying, so the odds were most definitely in the team’s favour.  The Dane made an incredible start but unfortunately two of the following pack didn’t do likewise and collided into each other, causing the safety car to be deployed.  Eventually the safety car pulled in and again Raldorf roared away from the pack in some style.

After five laps the gap was a massive five seconds but the dreaded fuel pressure issues came back to haunt the team once more.  Within two laps the five-second lead was gone and once again the Toyota GT 86 raced past to take the victory, leaving the limping Porsche in second place as it crossed the finish line.

After two podium finishes, and with six races still to go in the season, the Unixx–TR-Motorsport team is well positioned to mount a serious challenge for the championship, fuel pressure issues notwithstanding.  The next round of the Thailand Super Series championship takes place from June 29 – July 2 in Bang Saen, Chonburi as part of the Bang Saen Festival of Speed.