Published on June 13th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
Yan Claims Buriram Pole for TCR Asia Series
Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Andy Yan claimed pole position for the opening race of the TCR Asia Series at Chang International Circuit in Thailand, after a frantic qualifying session where he was forced to fight for every millisecond with local hero Jack Lemvard. Lemvard too tried everything he knew to get the position back, ultimately bettering Yan’s time in the dying seconds before race stewards deemed he had gone outside track limits at turn 12, negating his top time, which handed Yan his maiden pole position in TCR Asia.
In testing conditions with light rain falling ahead of the late afternoon qualifying session, Yan, TeamWork Motorsport’s Kevin Tse, Lemvard, Lemvard’s Vattana Motorsport team-mate Narasak Ittiritpong and Yan’s team-mate Filipe de Souza battled for position with mere hundredths separating them as the clock wound down. Missing from the fight though was Tin Sritrai, the TCR Asia Series points leader in the garage with an engine issue, something which will prompt an overnight engine change for Team Thailand. Practice After official testing on Friday, team’s returned Saturday for two official 30-minute practice sessions ahead of qualifying.
The test sessions had given us an idea of what to expect, and local stars Tin Sritrai and Jack Lemvard, and multiple China Touring Car champion Andy Yan duly responded to keep both fans and teams glued to the monitors. Yan topped the opening session, having gotten on top of the setup of the #3 Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen, with a best of 1:45.232. Only marginally behind was Tin Sritrai in his beautifully re-liveried Honda Civic TCR, now resplendent in the colours of Thailand, and TeamWork Motorsport’s Kevin Tse.
Henry Ho had the Champ Motorsport Honda Civic TCR in the mix early, but as the day went on, an electrical issue – similar to that which plagued the Macanese driver in South Korea – caused an intermittent miss, something which only got worse with time. In session two Sritrai hit the top early, but his pace came at a price, the Team Thailand crew forced to pull the engine from the Civic after data showed concerns with temperature, the safe option being to replace the powerplant and miss qualifying, something which will see the young Thai start rear-of-field for the opening 15-lap race.
Second overall in practice two was Vattana’s Ittiritpong, who was just marginally clear of Henry Ho, with Yan, Lemvard and Kevin Tse completing the top six. Qualifying With storms circling the Buriram region, teams were forced to watch the sky ahead of the two late afternoon qualifying sessions, but whilst rain fell, it was relatively light and dried up almost immediately as soon as it hit the 40+ degree track surface.
The circling storm also carried over to the race circuit, where Lemvard, Yan, Kevin Tse, Ittiritpong and de Souza carried over their practice pace to battle for the top spot. Utlimately the top time was set by Vattana Motorsport’s Lemvard who put his Seat Leon to the top mid-session to claim the fastest time in Q1 (1:45.927), with team-mate Ittiritpong in P2. Yan was next ahead of Henry Ho who was starting to feel the effects of his electrical issue, with de Souza fifth.
Douglas Khoo put in an impressive drive to be sixth fastest in the Viper Niza Racing Seat, having trimmed an additional two seconds off his previous best across the day. Paritat Bulbon claimed seventh from fellow TCR Thailand competitor Nattachak Hanjitkasem, Terrence Tse, Kevin Tse, Kennetha Ma and Bill O’Brien – all 12 cars making Q2. With rain continuing to fall, the teams left pit lane for the final ten minute session to set the grid for the top 12. The session was hectic as the leaders battled for position, whilst down the pack, Bill O’Brien in the TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen had a slight off, coming back onto the track in the path of Viper Niza Racing’s Douglas Khoo.
Fortunately, both continued without serious damage, Khoo recording the ninth fastest time, O’Brien recovering from a horror practice session which saw him turn only a handful of laps, to be 11th. Up front though the fight was on, Yan and Lemvard going lap for lap. As the clock wound down to ten minutes, Yan held the top spot and looked to have pole, but the time screens changed just moments later with Lemvard taking the top time. The Vattana Motorsport team celebrated on their driver’s return, but no sooner had he accepted their applause than the timing monitors flashed an alert that due to going outside track limits, his top time would be removed, dropping him to third alongside team-mate Ittiritpong and behind Yan and Kevin Tse, who put in a blinding lap to close out the session on the front row.
For the teams, focus now turns to Sunday’s two 15-lap races, with the Team Thailand crew working feverishly to make an engine change before the scheduled start of race one at 10:05am, race two set for 3:40pm.