Our first weekend in the “Toyota Motorsport” championship is done! A very good job by our young driver Jerasak Kongplab in our new #126 Toyota Vios and also a very good job by the young crew that supported him all weekend, setting up and preparing the new car.
With the Toyota Motorsport “One Make Race” series supporting the annual visit of “Japan Super GT” to Buriram’s Chang International Circuit there wasn’t a lot of track time for the “Vios Cup” runners, which, due to the bumper entry, were split into two groups.
Most of that track time came last Friday morning with the Free Practice and Qualifying sessions and for our new driver Jerasak Kongplab the day was all about learning the track and about the new car while at the same time our young crew were busy learning more about the #126 Toyota Vios.
With just two 20-minute sessions ahead of Sunday’s race everyone had to work hard and fast – and that’s just what they did.
22-year-old Jerasak did a steady and intelligent job as he set about learning the track from scratch, improving his times throughout the Free Practice session, which kicked the day off at 0930, to finish up with a best lap time of 2:25.026 set on lap 7 of the 8 he completed.
That set him up nicely for Qualifying at lunchtime, two hours later, and again the aim was to squeeze the laps in. With the track rubbering up and the heat rising, the times steadily dropped and Jerasak posted a best lap in 2:21.465 during the qualifying runs as he headed into his first ever race in Buriram – and only his second ever race, the first having come two weeks ago at Bira Circuit.
Jerasak was then bumped up from “Group 2” to “Group 1” which put him in amongst the top drivers of the Vios Cup who were mixed in on the grid with the more powerful Toyota Altis runners.
The race took place at 0950 on Sunday morning and comprised of 7 laps. It stayed very hot and dry as it had been all weekend and Jerasak added another 18 mins and 28 secs of racing to his “CV”.
This was in fact only his second ever race, just a fortnight after his first, that coming at Bira Circuit. So, in the space of two weeks, our “brand-new” driver has raced at both of Thailand’s main circuits.
It was certainly tough out there for our “Buriram rookie” as he came off the back of those two 20-min sessions but he did a superb job, coping well with some technical niggles on the Vios to bring it safely home after 7 laps with a best lap in 2:23.442 (set on lap 2).
We’re very pleased how this weekend went and proud of the hard work of both Jerasak and young crew supporting him.
Now the “Young Driver Programme” heads for the biggest event of the Thai racing year, the Bangsaen Grand Prix, for two more races, in a fortnight’s time.
Paspak Kijnopsri (Team Manager): “The weekend went pretty well and as good as we could have envisioned. The Vios Cup is very competitive and with more than twenty-five entries, most had a lot of experience of the Vios and the Buriram track. So, with very limited track running time, our race was really against ourselves to use those sessions for Jerasak to learn the circuit, improve his laps, and for the crew to learn to set up the car for this circuit, which, after its debut at Bira, was a very different proposition, as well as get to grips with the series format, schedule and technical regulations and requirements. Everyone worked hard and with enthusiasm and we improved all weekend. That gave us the best possible start to the Toyota series, gave us plenty of experience and sets us up nicely for the next round.”
Jerasak (#26 Toyota Vios): “I’m very excited and a bit pressured because this is my first race in Buriram and the other competitors have experience and looked accustomed to this circuit. We didn’t have much time in the practice and qualifying sessions but I tried to acclimate to the car and improved my laps while the crew worked hard to set up the car. It was a tough weekend but it gave me a good experience. Now I’m looking forward to Bangsaen. It’s a beautiful street circuit and challenge. I’m sure it’s going to be so much fun for everyone.”