New Liqui Moly Team Engstler recruit Kantadhee Kusiri dominated the Bangsaen Grand Prix to claim two impressive victories in his Billionaire Boy Racing Honda Civic TCR on the tight twisting street circuit, but it was Singha Motorsport’s Carlo Van Dam who used his two podium finishes on the weekend to claim the inaugural TCR Thailand title by a narrow margin over Vattana Motorsport’s Jack Lemvard.
Coming into the weekend separated by just three points, Van Dam started favourite whilst local hero Lemvard needed to post a solid result to stay with the Thai-based Dutch Seat driver.
Kusiri claimed the early advantage with pole position, the winner of both races at the Buriram round in August, qualified an impressive seven tenths of a second faster than Lemvard’s Vattana team-mate Narasak Ittiritpong, with Lemvard and Van Dam filling the second row.
Off pole Kusiri was untouchable, sprinting away for a comfortable win, whilst behind him Van Dam and Lemvard did battle for the podium, the two title protagonists using all the available circuit to gain maximum points, Van Dam at one stage even using the barriers.. Ultimately though it was Kusiri who led home a Seat 1-2-3 with Van Dam moving into a share of the outright points as a result.
Grant Supaphong (Kratingdaeng Racing Team Seat Leon) was fourth from team-mate Chen Jian Hong who also claimed top points for the AM class, defeating Nattachak Hanjitkasen (TBN MK ihere Racing Honda Civic).
During Sunday’s second race - the final round of the 2016 TCR Thailand season - Kusiri again claimed victory, although this time he had to charge through from the third row after the top five finishers from race one were inverted. He quickly caught the two title contenders battling for maximum points and the championship, making his way past Van Dam and then race leader Lemvard, the trio finishing in that order.
For Kusiri - who was recently named as the replacement for outgoing TCR Asia Series champion Andy Yan in the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen - it was his fourth TCR Thailand win in as many starts, but whilst the Thai driver celebrated in front of his legion of fans, the championship was decided in favour of Van Dam in the Singha Motorsport Seat. Lemvard ultimately topped the overall points, but on count-back, with all teams able to drop two rounds from their total, Van Dam emerged as the champion by seven points over the Vattana Motorsport driver.
Lemvard’s Vattana team-mate Narasak Ittiritpong recovered from a DNF in the opening race to charge from rear of field to fourth, whilst Chen Jian Hong (Kratingdaeng Racing Team Seat Leon) claimed the AM class honours from Nattachak Hanjitkasen (TBN MK ihere Racing Honda Civic) and TCR Asia Series regular Douglas Khoo (Viper Niza Racing Seat).
2016 TCR Thailand Series - PRO/AM
1. Carlo Van Dam (156-points), 2. Jack Lemvard (149), 3. Narasak Ittiritpong (109), 4. Kantadhee Kusiri (100), 5. Grant Supaphong (100), 6. Paritat Bulbon (92), 7. Alexander Mies (48)
2016 TCR Thailand Series - AM
1. Chen Jian Hong (200-points), 2. Nattachak Hanjitkasen (141), 3. Rattanin Leenutaphong (43), 4. Chariya Nuya (40), 5. Wijak Lertprasertpakorn (33), 6. Douglas Khoo (30)