After the sweltering heat and humidity of Sepang in Malaysia, the Unixx TR-Motorsport Team came home to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for Rounds 3 & 4 of the Thailand Super Series 2018.
Sepang proved a successful weekend with the Dane Thomas Raldorf and Co-driver Shaun Varney from New Zealand bringing home a good haul of points under difficult conditions.
Rounds 3 & 4 would prove an even bigger challenge as several new supercars had joined the GTM Class for this season. This event would also mark the start of the season for the lower class cars in the Pattaya based team with veteran racer Tony Percy and the Honda Integra DC5 competing in the Super 2000 / Touring Car Class and the young Viking from Denmark, Victor Jensen who will be out to prove his worth in the Super Production Class with the Honda Jazz
As always the team arrived early in the week to begin preparations for the task ahead, Thursday was the first time the cars could get some track time and see how they were shaping up for the weekend ahead.
The success of Sepang was soon forgotten as several issues were affecting all three cars, first of all the Porsche 997 had gearbox, gear shift and suspension issues as well as a loose left side door, the Honda DC5 was leaking oil and the brand new K20 engine was down on power with a suspected piston issue while the Honda Jazz was also down on power by around 20HP. The teams of mechanics worked well into the night to replace the essential parts to get the cars in good shape, by 2 am Friday morning both the Honda DC5 and Honda Jazz were ready to race.
Work on the Porsche carried on until well into the next day as the gearbox and gear shifters were overhauled while the door was secured in place, with all the time spent on the repairs no time was left to alter the setup in time for qualifying, this lack of time would prove costly.
Tony Percy and Victor Jensen soon got to grips with the Chang international and it wasn’t long until they were posting competitive times, by the end of the session Tony had qualified first in Class which was an incredible achievement considering his K20 engine had to be completely replaced the night before, the young Viking, Victor came an impressive second in class narrowly missing out on first place. Unfortunately, the success could not be continued as both Shaun and then Thomas struggled to find the right balance in their two qualifying sessions, Shaun battled hard to secure 7th in class for Race 1 while Thomas squeezed every inch out of the Porsche 997 to claim 5th in class for Race 2. The mechanics had another long night ahead to try to find the best setup and balance to give the car the best opportunity for a podium position.
GTM Supercar Race 1 – Thomas Raldorf/Shaun Varney – Porsche 997
Shaun Varney took the first stint in the 997 while Thomas and the rest of the team watched on anxiously to see if the issues had been fixed, but it was soon obvious they hadn’t as Shaun Pushed as hard as he could but with the cars lack of setup the lap times weren’t competitive, this was even more compounded when Shaun radioed to the pit to report an issue when shifting gears. As the team made their pit stop Shaun had managed to get the car into a respectable 6th in class, now it was time for the Danish Dynamo to try push on up the field.
The race was littered with incidents resulting in several safety car periods allowing for the field to bunch up and give the team a chance of a higher position. Thomas seized the opportunity and with some expert driving and a little bit of luck crossed the line in 4th position. This was some achievement after all the issues the team had endured, however, the celebrations were soon muted as in the post-race scrutineering it was found that a technical issue had breached regulations resulting in the team being disqualified from the results and losing 18 precious championship points. The team of mechanics although dejected quickly turned their attention to the setup of the car and again worked late into the night to give the guys a fighting chance in Race 2.
Due to the number of incidents in Race 1, all the teams were allowed on the track in the morning to complete several warm-up laps. Thomas duly took the Porsche out and returned to the pit gleaming as the car was now handling perfectly, demonstrated by Thomas going 1.7 seconds faster than his fastest lap in Race 1.
With the improved setup and a 10-second reduction for their mandatory pit stop/driver change, the team were confident of a top 3 position. Thomas made a solid start from 5th holding off the more powerful cars behind him while catching up to the cars ahead and eventually took 4th place. The pit window opened and in came Thomas for the driver changeover, all was looking good for a top 3 position until disaster struck.
The issue with gearbox returned as Shaun could not get any gears to engage, as the clock was ticking the young Kiwi driver desperately tried everything and eventually got the car moving when first gear came alive, however, the damage was already done as the team had lost too much time. The pit stop should have been 2m 17s instead it was an agonisingly long 3m 23s which wiped out the 51-second lead Thomas had built up over the 5th place car.
Shaun tried in vain to make up the lost time but after another safety car, any chance of a top 3 position was gone. The safety war was deployed due to the Toyota Driver and Championship leader Khun Nattawude who crashed heavily into the wall promoting the team to 5th place. Shaun consolidated his position and nursed the car home to collect some much-needed points after the previous day’s disqualification. In the race for the GTM Championship, the team are now 15 points behind the Toyota with all to play for in Bang Saen in six weeks’ time.
Thailand Touring Car – Tony Percy – Honda Integra DC5
Veteran racer Tony Percy had better luck in the Honda Integra DC5, after taking a comfortable first in class pole position he followed up with a comfortable victory in Race 1. After making a solid start Tony began to pull away from the chasing pack and found himself in some clean air for most of the race easing over the line to win his class and take 3rd place overall. The victory was a great achievement as only 24 hours earlier his number one K20 engine had to be replaced with his spare backup engine.
Due to his success in Race 1 additional weight was added to the DC5, the mechanics installed the extra weight and altered the balance and the set up accordingly. With the extra weight in the car Race 2 was never going to be easy but Tony with his years of racing experience held off the chasing pack for the entire race, again finishing first in class and third overall. Tony now leads the Class B Championship.
Super Production – Victor Jensen – Honda Jazz
At only 17 years old young Victor has shown great potential in early season testing, now it was time to show his skills on the big stage at the Chang International Circuit. The early issues with the engine were now fixed and Dane was firing on all cylinders, ready to take on the much more experienced drivers. Confidence was high after an impressive qualifying where he narrowly missed out on pole position, however, his dreams were dashed when going out on the formation lap he lost his left front wheel at turn four and had to retire the car. After some investigation by the team, it was found to be a cross-threaded nut that had caused the wheel to come loose and eventually break away. Victor returned to the pits still smiling accepting it was “Just one of those things that happen in motorsport”.
Due to no result in Race 1 Victor and the Jazz started right at the back of the grid with 11 other cars ahead of them, this did not phase the young man as the lights went out he began his charge up the field. By lap 4 Victor was in 5th place and catching up to 4th place with every corner he passed, but then more bad luck beset the team as his clutch failed dramatically reducing his speed, even though he could carry on at a slower pace it was decided to retire the car and negate any potential damage to the gearbox. The worst possible start to a new season, but again Victor was all smiles and looking forward to getting back in the hunt at Bang Saen in 5 weeks’ time.
A very tough and demanding weekend for all connected with the Unixx TR-Motorsport Team but they promise to bounce back in the coastal town of Bang Saen for rounds 5 & 6 of The Thailand Super Series.
The team would like to thank their gracious sponsors for their continued support, Unixx Lubricants, AKA Traders, Amber Food & Grapes, Seara Sports, Retox Group, Freem Clothing Thailand, SCAN Global Logistics, Sky Marine Group, Inspire Thailand, Thai Tech by Thai Visa, Mogit Training, Grover & Grover Bespoke Tailors, B-Quik, Cutting Edge Group, ETS and Planet Porsche Magazine.
The Unixx TR-Motorsport will next be in action at the Bang Saen Festival of Speed on the weekend of the 14/15 July. For more information about the team and upcoming events visit tr-motorsport.com, you can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Line search Unixx TR-Motorsport Thailand.
Photos: Wuttikorn Pengnoo/Motorsportfans, TR-Motorsport