February 17, 2017

Groskamp takes opening qualifier at TITC

Jilles Groskamp took the opening round of qualifying at the TITC in Bangkok this morning, the Infinity driver putting in the only 20-lap run at Infinity Addict Circuit.  Sixth fastest in yesterday’s seeding practice, Groskamp opened with a blistering 14.9 second lap to take control of the qualifier to TQ the round from the Xray’s of Alexander Hagberg and Bruno Coelho.  While Nicolas Lee would finish as the fastest Yokomo with a P4 for the round it was the lack of pace of his team-mate Ronald Volker that was one of  the biggest surprises of the qualifier with the World Champion only 13th fastest.

‘Surprising’ was Groskamp’s reaction to the opening qualifier which even left the race announcer using some colourful language to express how impressed he was by the Dutch driver’s run. Groskamp continued, ‘from practice I knew I had a good set-up for the warm conditions and knew my car was pretty good but I didn’t know it was that fast’.  Running a prototype SMJ chassis, Infinity’s leading electric touring car drivers each using different parts on their cars,  the 2012 World Champion said, ‘while others struggled with understeer my car was on another level compared to the rest.  I had so much traction’.  The only driver to get below a 15-second lap time, he said ‘the car was spot on from the start and that was how I was able to do the 14.9 which I never managed before’.  Looking to Q2, he said ‘I focused on a set-up for the day time and it is really really good. I just hope the other sets of tyres are the same because I hear some complaints from others about their sets’.

Commenting on his run, Hagberg said, ‘the track was better than expected. Normally its dusty but there was good traction’.  The 2015 TITC Champion said he planned to make a ‘tiny change to try and get more pace’ but added, ‘tyre strategy is going to be the big thing’.  The Swede continued, ‘I have to decide when is best to run new or used’ and ‘we need to work on this (the strategy) together as a team’.

‘Was not so good’ was how an unimpressed Coelho summed up Q1 after finishing 1.7-seconds off his tam-mate Hagberg.  The defending champion continued, ‘we didn’t change anything.  I had a very good pace before and now I have zero traction.  I must have got a set of tyres that are not good’.  Adding, ‘the car was undriveable’, the ETS Champion said, ‘we had some sets that where not so good in practice so we will leave the car the same and see if a different set of tyres is better’.

Matching his seeding position with P4, Lee was another driver who was disappointed with his Q1 performance.  The Singapore driver said, ‘the car was pushing from the start.  I didn’t change anything so I’m putting it down to the track changed’.  Expecting grip to be higher for Q2 he said, ‘we will change something for the next one’.   Team-mate Volker summed up his opening run with ‘I have no idea what happened’.  He added, ‘the car is not that bad that I am 7-seconds off.  We’ll change the car plus we’ll make sure that set of tyres wont be used again’.

Setting the 5th fastest time despite running in the 3rd fastest heat, Infinity driver Chavit Saligupta summed up his performance as ‘OK’.  The 22-year-old from Bangkok described his car as being ‘a little difficult for the 1st minute’ which forced him to ‘take it easy’.  Asked what he felt the issue was he replied ‘for me the grip felt lower than yesterday’.  For Q2 he plans to leave the car unchanged and on the same set of tyres feeling the track for the second run should have better traction.

Completing the Top 6, Yokomo protege Naoki Akiyama said his BD8 was ‘super loose after the 1st minute’. Despite ending up 4-seconds off the TQ pace, the 17-year-old plans to leave his car unchanged for Q2 and like Saligupta will run the same set of tyres for a second time, drivers getting four sets of the controlled Sweep tyres for the 6 rounds of qualifying.

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