The penultimate endurance race of the season was held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, our regular followers will remember our previous race and the handicaps we faced due to our ‘mini’ fuel tank compared to the other cars. As soon as the team returned from Buriram work began on the car. The work included the installation of a new 95 Litre fuel tank, brand new engine and a new clutch with a super light flywheel. The FIA certified fuel tank was installed and checked and it quickly became apparent that it did not hold 95 litres, the capacity was well short at only 75 litres, and to make matters worse the new clutch system required a unique clutch bearing for it to work, after several failed R & D attempts the mechanics fashioned a system.
For the event in Buriram, we had some extra team members join us, this proved essential as the weekend played out….
The problems began as early as the first practice session when 3rd Gear decided it would prefer not to hang around with its fellow gears and jump out at every opportunity possible! Back at the pits, the gearbox was taken apart and the custom clutch bearing seemed to be the culprit and was quickly repaired in time for qualifying. Even with these issues, Thomas set a practice time 2 seconds faster than the previous fastest time in Round 1.
The ‘Blue Blur’ with the ‘Danish Dynamo’ at the helm began the qualifying session, however, after only one lap Thomas radioed the pit wall to say there was an issue with the engine, as it was down on power. With only one lap completed Thomas still managed to take provisional pole. After investigating the engine back at the pits no issue could be found. Thomas went back out to consolidate his position, but again the engine issues started and quickly became worse. With pole position seemingly secured it was safer to bring the car in early and try to save the engine for the race. As the chequered flag dropped to end the session Toyota Team Thailand was still on a flying lap and beat TR Motorsport to pole by just 0.1 seconds, meaning Thomas and Tony would start in second but importantly on the front row.
The evening was spent running full diagnostics on the troublesome engine and it was found that the injector for cylinder 3 was failing intermittently and causing the loss of power. A completely new set of injectors were installed and the engine re-tuned remotely from Bangkok. As the race began it was apparent that engine was still losing a drastic amount of power resulting in Thomas falling back to 12th in just one lap so another trip to the pits beckoned. Unbelievably it was found that one of the new injectors had failed! With no replacements left in stock, the mechanics begged and borrowed from another team, however, as the injectors were a different specification they would need re-tuning remotely again. The tuner in Bangkok was not available for at least 20 mins so the team took the decision to go back on track albeit driving at a lower RPM.
After 20 minutes the car was back in the pits having the new tuning program installed. After the all clear was given it was time for co-driver Tony Percy to hit the track. Tony was soon setting fastest laps until brake issues caused him to ease off somewhat and conserve the car. During his pit stop, he reported that 3rd gear had decided to leave the party altogether, sources reported it was seen in the Buriram United Megastore trying on the new pink football shirt! Tony also mentioned that the brake pedal was getting worse with each lap. Thomas started his second stint and reported that the brake issue seemed to have rectified itself and he began to fight back through the field. Tony again took over the car which was now a respectable 3rd in class. It wasn’t long until the gremlins came back, with Tony reporting in that 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th gear had also decided to take advantage of the 10% discount in the Buriram United Megastore. Tony along with his new best friend 4th gear was told to keep pushing as nothing further could be done to improve the situation.
Tony pitted and luckily 4th gear wanted to stay in the car as Thomas took the reins once more. Thomas was pushing hard but, while coming into turn 4 the gearbox said: “I’ve had enough, and I shouldn’t be working on a Sunday” causing a massive lock up and resulting in oil and smoke billowing from the car. Due to the gearbox being so selfish, a piston rod in the well-behaved engine gave up all hope and decided to end it all by propelling itself through the engine block and that was that.
The despondent team set about packing away with not much being spoken to each other as the horrific weekend was reflected upon. Although the weekend had been a disaster other results had gone in their favour meaning the team have an outside chance of claiming the championship in Round 3 at the Bang Saen Street Race Friday 25th November.