Victory in Bangsaen gets my season back on track
For the first time in Motorsport history, the Bangsaen International Circuit received International racing series’ in the form of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and TCR Asia. It was an exciting weekend for the organization company, Racing Spirit, as this massive motorsport event has been in existence for the last decade, though it seems to be Asia’s best kept secret as far as awesome racing events go.
I had driven here once before on what was the most challenging circuit in the world that I have been to. I previously thought that the Marina Bay Circuit at the Singapore GP was not very forgiving, but Bangsaen was a different level all together, having a width of 8 metres in some of the narrowest parts of the circuit. That is pretty mad! Though I knew in order to make some points back on the championship leader, winning was the only option possible. If I let Evan Chen run away from with the title, it would be hard to make up the points as we reach the halfway point through the racing season.
Practice saw me on top with some blistering laps although the tightest Thai circuit meant that we always had traffic from slower cars during qualifying, managing a 2nd place in qualifying behind my championship rival Chen which put us on the back foot. With the nature of this circuit, the starting grid was everything as overtaking here is not easy.
It was GO GO GO for race 1 and I made the jump on Evan straight away off the line, though arch rival Francis Tjia made contact from behind with a pretty decent hit, getting me caught out on the apex of Turn 2. Fortunately, Evan was also bogged down and I ended up leading from the start to the end. Mission Accomplished as we manage to take our first win of the season and put ourselves in the lead of the championship!
Race 2 was a role reversal unfortunately as I blotched up my start, letting Evan and Francis past me and found myself in 3rd place by the second corner. Unfortunately I did not have the pace to pull away, as I did in race 1 and I only finished 3rd which is also pretty good, though this resulted me in losing the lead of the championship again. A tight battle this season for sure! Not a lot to eshout about but a good solid drive from all of us that saw the race fairly uneventful considering the nature of the circuit!
I wanted to just mention the two men that are behind this historic event, along with their massively hard working team in my good mates Sontoya Kuplome and Preeda. These guys are awesome! They had a dream, worked extremely hard, and created a street circuit by the beach that was created with the labour efforts of the locals, which in 2017 became graded as a FIA Grade 3 circuit. Quite an achievement from the boys from Thailand.
On the day that the FIA Grade came through, we all went for dinner and took photos with the certificate. It was so much more than a piece of paper to them, and even to me. I had previously visited this racing event on two occasions prior to the FIA Grade and the level of improvement from year to year was something that couldn’t be put into words. Great work lads!
Next stop for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia brings us back to the Sepang International Circuit, a place that we know well. Hopefully we can make that experience count!