Craft-Bamboo Lukoil star in Thailand
James Nash, Pepe Oriola and the Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil were the clear winners at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit today. In the heat of the Thai summer, the Brit and the Spaniard out-paced the competition, despite a difficult start of the weekend. Oriola arrived in Thailand with an injured foot and did not take part in Friday’s testing. Nash set the fastest lap but was victim of a severe crash in the closing minutes. Hopefully, his car could be somehow brought back to racing conditions. The success of the red-and-white Seat León cars proved once again the competitiveness of the team on this racetrack, where it had posted a memorable 1-2-3 last year.
This time, after taking the pole beating Gianni Morbidelli by only one thousandth of a second, Oriola took a clear lights-to-flag win in Race 1 ahead of Nash and Morbidelli. Race 2 saw a dominant victory of Nash, who beat Mihail Grachev (West Coast Honda Civic) and Dušan Borković (B3 Racing Seat León). The Serbian driver emerged as the winner of a terrific battle, arguably one of the most exciting shows in the history of TCR International Series, which also involved Stefano Comini, Davit Kajaia, Attila Tassi, Sergey Afanasyev, Jean-Karl Vernay and Kanthadee Kusiri. For several laps, these seven drivers fought intensely, though mostly with fair play, delivering countless overtaking manoeuvres and several contacts. The show was a great feast for local fans, as the unexpected guest at that level of competition was young local gun Kusiri, who made his Touring Car debut with the Honda Civic of Team Eakie BBR Kaiten and is currently racing F3 cars in the Euroformula Open.
The Thai races also yield a narrowing situation in the standings of the series: James Nash has now retaken the lead, only 7 points ahead of team mate Pepe Oriola, with the Leopard Racing duo of Comini and Vernay lying in third and fourth, 10 and 41 points behind respectively. With 165 points still at stake, nothing is decided, although the scenario for the last three events of the season is now getting clearer.
The next event of the TCR International Series will take place at the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on 16/18 September.