Super Cars make a splash at Bira

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Thailand Super Series rolled into Bira Circuit in the first weekend of Oct. for Race 5 & 6 of the season with the drivers set for a high speed duel in what could only be described as seriously ‘rainy’ conditions.  It simply poured down throughout the whole event with almost every category affected by the weather and by Sunday evening the Pattaya racetrack and its surroundings were saturated.

But the conditions didn’t affect the race programme, rather it added to the show as the one of the most dramatic, exciting and nail-biting racing weekends played out in front of the many fans who braved the conditions.

The Bira Circuit in Pattaya welcomed back the Thailand Super Series for Races 5 & 6 over the weekend, Oct. 5-6.The Bira Circuit in Pattaya welcomed back the Thailand Super Series for Races 5 & 6 over the weekend, Oct. 5-6.

Superstar driver Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak left Bira on Sunday night, Oct. 6, with two wins out of two and firmly back on course for the title after his big slipup at the previous race.  But he was made to work hard for his victories by talented youngster Pasin Lathouras along with Piti Bhirombhakdi and the experienced Vattana Motorsport owner Chonsawat Asavahame.

In Super Car’s Class 2, Nattavude Charoensukhawatana led out a crushing Toyota 1-2 in Saturday’s first race as he closed in further on the title, but Sunday’s encounter turned out to be one of the most exciting in recent memory and through the bucketing rain Grant Supaphong emerged after a faultless drive to claim his first ever Super Car win.

Mazda’s lead from the front in the Super Production race.Mazda’s lead from the front in the Super Production race.

Saturday’s big Class 1 race saw the upcoming Pasin Lathouras on pole having set a qualifying time that was fractions ahead of the Porsche driver Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak.  On the run to Turn 1 Vuttikorn got the jump on Pasin while Indharasak Techaterasiri (Lamborghini) overtook Piti Bhirombhakdi (Porsche) and also took a quick look round the outside of the Ferrari but wasn’t able to make a second position gain stick.

By the time the field had raced up the hill, navigated the hairpin and started the high speed run down to 100R, Vuttikorn already had a few lengths over Pasin and Indharasak, while Piti was now finding his fourth place under threat from Chonsawat Asavahame in the second Reiter-Vattana-Unity Lamborghini.

Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak in his Singha-A Motorsport-Porsche was a double winner in the Class 1 event.Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak in his Singha-A Motorsport-Porsche was a double winner in the Class 1 event.

However, within a lap Piti was in the gravel through no fault of his own and the Safety Car had been deployed.  The blue and yellow Porsche was quickly cleared, the Safety Car retreated to the pit lane and battle recommenced.

When racing resumed it would turn out to be a straight fight between the Porsche of Vuttikorn and the Ferrari of Pasin.  The 19-year-old tried just about everything he knew for almost 20 laps but just couldn’t find a way past the hugely experienced Porsche driver who knows this track like the back of his hand and he held on to take the chequered flag.

Cars line up on the grid for one of the few dry run races of the weekend.Cars line up on the grid for one of the few dry run races of the weekend.

Sunday’s Class 1 race on Oct. 6 saw the GT3 cars bring the 2-day racing festival to a close and yet again it proved to be another showdown between Porsche and Ferrari.

Pasin, starting once more from pole position, got away cleanly at the green light and maintained his lead into turn 1 as the chasing pack fought for positions.  Vuttikorn briefly slipped down to fourth place behind Chonsawat’s Lamborghini and Piti’s Porsche, but Saturday’s champ soon got the bit between his teeth and by lap 6 he had regained second spot.

As the track began to dry out, Pasin stated to struggle on his wet weather tires and Vuttikorn took advantage to sneak through on the inside to take the race lead at half distance.  Pasin’s pace dropped off dramatically and he was passed by Pitti in the second Singha-A Motorsport-Porsche who then gradually closed down the gap on race leader Vuttikorn.  By the final lap the gap was down to less than a second but Vuttikorn used to his experience and knowledge of the circuit to hang on and take the chequered flag by 0.806 of a second.

Nattavude Charoensukhawatana in his Toyota leads the Super Series Class 2 race at Bira Circuit on Saturday, Oct. 5.Pasin Lathouras’ Ferrari (center) heads the Class 1 field into turn 1 of Sunday’s race.

“My setup today was good for the completely wet track but after half of the race the track was getting drier so I was slowed down a little bit.  I think Piti came up and passed Pasin and then I think he was faster than I was and if the race had two or three more laps he could have passed me,” admitted Vuttikorn post race.

The race of the weekend occurred undoubtedly a couple of hours earlier Sunday in the Super Car 2 Class.  The battle for honors witnessed some of the worst conditions of the festival but equally some of the most exciting racing.

Nattavude Charoensukhawatana in his Toyota leads the Super Series Class 2 race at Bira Circuit on Saturday, Oct. 5.Nattavude Charoensukhawatana in his Toyota leads the Super Series Class 2 race at Bira Circuit on Saturday, Oct. 5.

At the start, New Zealander Craig Corliss in his Holden Commodore burst past pole-sitter Nattavude and took the lead.  His advantage lasted until only until lap 4 however when a spin allowed Aki in the Vattana Motorsport Porsche to assume the race lead with Grant Supaphong closing fast behind.

Supaphong’s 4 wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo X thrived in the wet conditions and he soon took over at the front of the race as Aki struggled for grip.  With cars spinning off all over the track it was no surprise to see the safety car deployed to bring some order to the race but when Voravud’s Ferrari beached into the second chicane on lap 17 the race was red flagged until the car could be moved.

Once the race was restated, Supaphong burst away from the field once more but behind him there was a battle royale for the minor places with up to six cars regularly swapping track positions as they all took turns spinning off in the slippery conditions.  Supaphong eventually took the flag with a three second lead over Aki’s Ferrari who headed the remainder of the battered field over the line.

“In the qualification and in the race on Saturday I had a problem with the brakes and the steering wheel and the engine so last night the mechanics tried to fix everything and today there was heavy rain so the temperature of my engine came down and the four wheel drive is more easy to control on the wet track,” noted a happy Supaphong.

The Thailand Super Series now takes a break for two months before resuming in Bangsaen on December 18-22 for the final 2 races of the season.

(Report and photos provided courtesy of Racing Sprit/Thailand Super Series)