Motorsports

Published on June 12th, 2016 | by Amirul Mukminin

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TCR Asia Series; Sritrai Facing Serious Challenges at Home in Thailand

The TCR Asia Series returned to Chang International Circuit for the second event of the 2016 season, but whilst many of the teams are enjoying their second visit to Buriram, the conditions this time around are very different to what they had to face last October..

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Through the three 30-minute official test sessions on Friday, ambient temperatures soared into the high 30s, with track temperatures in excess of 50 degrees in the middle of the day, whilst cabin comfort for the drivers exceeded 60 degrees.. It was hot!

On track the action matched the conditions, with the three sessions suggesting that we can expect another fantastic round of racing, hot on the heels of a brilliant season-opener in South Korea, although we will sadly be without Viper Niza Racing’s South Korean sensation Roelof Bruins who has been forced to withdraw due to outside commitments, but we have a more than worthy replacement to take up the challenge; Thailand’s Jack Lemvard..

An experienced campaigner in his home country, Lemvard made his TCR debut as part of TCR Thailand at Buriram three weeks ago, pushing GT star Carlo Van Dam all the way to the line in both races, the second of which saw him shadow the experienced Dutchman across the full race distance.. “I was so close to getting him too,” Lemvard reflected.

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On top of the timesheets in session one, Lemvard’s Vattana Motorsport Seat Leon was forced to settle for the second spot in session two behind TCR Asia Series points leader Tim Sritrai, but the tables were turned once more in Lemvard’s favour in the final session.

“It’s funny, but conditions are a lot slower than they were here three weeks ago, but we’re pushing. It’s great battling with Tin, but we’ve got a little more in reserve, so we’ll see what qualifying brings..”

Sritrai too was happy with his performance, but he admitted that doing double-duty in the Singha Motorsport Ferrari 458 Challenge in GT Asia was forcing him to really think about his driving..

“It’s such a different car to drive to the Honda, but it’s enjoyable. I think we’ll be okay this weekend. I like Buriram, and it’s great to race in front of my ‘home’ crowd. Jack [Lemvard] is very fast, and I think we’ll have a great race, but my focus is the championship, that’s what is important.”

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Third fastest was Liqui Moly team Engstler’s Andy Yan, the multiple China Touring Car champion closing the gap to the two Thai drivers across the day to finish just under three tenths slower than Sritrai, with team-mate Filipe de Souza a welcome fifth.

“Finally I’m starting to find a rhythm I like,” the Macanese driver said with his trademark wide smile.

Splitting the two Liqui Moly Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs was the second of the Vattana Motorsport entries of Narasak Ittiritpong (Honda Civic TCR), with TeamWork Motorsport’s Kevin Tse also right in the mix.

Frustratingly for the team their second entry was suffering a niggling technical issue which tied Bill O’Brien up for much of the day.

“I sat in the car for 25-minutes in the final session as the team worked to sort the problem,” he explained. “It’s nothing dramatic and I’m sure overnight they’ll sort it, but it was like sitting in an oven in pit lane..!”

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With testing over and done, it’s time to focus on the business end of the weekend, with Saturday providing two further 30-minute practice sessions ahead of qualifying late in the day. Sunday will then see two 15-lap races for teams to do battle, and based on testing, it’s going to be a battle to remember..


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