‘Two Out of Three Ain’t bad’ – that what the famous song lyrics say and they could pretty much sum up our dramatic weekend at the 11th Bangsaen Grand Prix. There were three races on the schedule for Super Car GTM Plus, spread out over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We kicked off in some style in Race 1 with a triple podium finish, fortunes were abruptly reversed in Race 2 which really battered us, and then in Race 3 fortune favoured us again as we dug in, bounced back and rounded out the weekend superbly with all three of our drivers on the podium for the second time in just three days.
It’s always a great pleasure for us to come to Bangsaen to compete in the Grand Prix and we started a long, hot and dry week well in practice and qualifying although at present the Audi R8 LMS Cup isn’t on a performance par with the front runners so we have to get totally focused, prepare the cars superbly, fight for every inch of the track and chip away at the podium positions. The line-up from the season opener in Buriram back in April remained unchanged with Henk J. Kiks, Daniel Bilski and Shaun Varney driving our roster of Audis. In Race 1 that strategy worked out perfectly as all three drivers fought their way onto the podium, Daniel finished second, Henk third and Shaun fifth – and that also gave us the Teams’ trophy.
From that high point Race 2 simply went south on us – Bangsaen is a track that gives you a high that’s often abruptly followed by a low. The warning signs came early as Shaun was out of the race on the warmup lap with a gearbox issue, Daniel was hit by another car and pitched hard into the barriers and with extensive resulting damage to the #27 Audi the team was left with major overnight repairs to undertake (the work would in fact only be finished just before the start of the final race). Henk was slapped with a drive through penalty late on which compromised his strong race but the Dutchman still brought the car home sixth to give us a few points, albeit our only survivor when the chequered flag came out.
After Friday’s triple podium and Saturday’s best forgotten race we bounced straight to another high in Race 3 and blistering race pace saw Henk and Daniel fighting their way to finish third and fourth, the team’s hard work overnight on the Australian’s car really reaping instant rewards, while Shaun made up for his early exit the previous day to finish fifth and put all three of our Audis on the Super Car GTM Plus podium.
Meanwhile, in Super Car GTC Attapot Sriprom scored an excellent double podium, fourth in both races, in the #99 Porsche 996 GT3 Cup after two very neat and tidy drives. However, lady luck didn’t smile on Ian Geekie as he returned to the team and agonisingly he was out of both races at the start through no fault of his own. The Australian will certainly be looking to bounce back when he returns to driving duties with team in Buriram next month. Meanwhile, Thomas Raldorf, in our customer supported Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, won both races to do his championship hopes a powerful lot of good.
Finally, as usual we entered our pair of Honda Brios in Super Eco for Narin Naeosathon and Sathaporn Veerachue; the youngsters are now into their second year competing in the popular Thailand Super Series entry level category in these little machines and with each having prior experience of racing at Bangsaen back in February that certainly showed and both drivers made it onto the podium during the weekend.
We would also like to congratulate Racing Spirit for putting on such a superb event and the awarding of an FIA Grade 3 licence to the circuit. Well done to their team for all the hard work they put in to achieve that ambitious goal. It’s always the highlight of our year to race in the Bangsaen Grand Prix and this time the organisers really raised their game another notch as with Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and TCR Asia Series joining the programme for the first time it meant the beachfront event had an even bigger and more international feel.
Henk J. Kiks: “All in all not a bad weekend at all for the team, we got all the cars onto the podium in two of the races and in the other, the middle race, which didn’t go well for us at all, we showed the resolve and determination that this team has to knuckle down and turn things round when the going gets tough. For myself two podiums was a good result and it could have been three if I hadn’t followed the other cars in going early which landed me with a penalty. I improved my pace all weekend to finish with a P3 and this is probably the strongest I have raced here.”
Daniel Bilski: “The Bangsaen GP weekend was an extremely challenging weekend. Qualifying on Thursday went well and it set us up for all three races. Race 1 on Friday was a great start to the event. I was really happy with how I drove, finishing P2. Race 3 was a polar opposite but the team worked through the night to have my car ready for Sunday’s race, for which I am extremely grateful. The guys didn’t sleep, and had my car ready just an hour before the race. Race 3 was promising, with the car feeling sharp and fast. A few solid battles and passing moves throughout the race meant a top 2 finish was possible. However, contact on the last lap and subsequent damage meant I had to slow down to make sure I took the chequered flag and I had to fight to bring the car home in P4. The team showed their class by overcoming so many challenges to still come away with good points.”
Shaun Varney: “The weekend at Bangsaen for us was about collecting points unfortunately it wasn’t to be and we were plagued with reliability issues all weekend. Our gearbox cost us races and places in Race 2 and 3 while contact early in Race 1 put us out of contention for a top three finish. We did come away with two fifth places but a DNF in race two cost us points wise.”
Attapot Sriprom: “I’m happy this weekend. I got on podium in P4 in both races. We had a little bit of problem with the suspension that we need to fix before next race in Buriram. I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work and giving me a good car. Thank you to everyone for encouraging me.”
Ian Geekie: “I was really excited to be back in Bangsaen and the event just keeps getting bigger and better. Now FIA Grade 3 Certified it has reached true international status. My weekend started well but in Race 1 I got tagged from behind into Turn 2 and was spun out of the race due to a damaged right rear wheel. Race two got off to a good start but mechanical gremlins put an early end to my race. Disappointing but looking forward to better fortune in Buriram. Thanks to the B Quik team for doing a great job.”