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.
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 teams of mechanics worked through the night and 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.
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.
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 Website.
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.