March 1, 2024

Coelho holds overnight TQ in Bangkok

With Day 1 of qualifying at the 20th edition of the TITC complete it is Bruno Coelho who holds the overnight TQ in Bangkok.  The Xray driver would take both rounds of qualifying on today’s schedule helped by top seed Ronald Volker having a 360 spin while on TQ pace run in Q2.  The second of the four qualifiers would be a repeat of the opening round in terms of the Top 3 with Alexander Hagberg 3rd fastest having been the pace setter for a time during the 5-minute run.  After an early mistake and a bad set-up choice in Q1, Naoto Matsukura would get a P4 on his second attempt ahead of Souta Goto driving the new Tamiya TRF421 which is making its race debut here.  With many of the leading drivers having moments it was the Xray of Shin Sawada who was running in the second fastest along with Goto who completed the Top 6.

‘It was a tight qualifier with Ronald at the beginning’, was how Coelho summed up Q2.  Chasing a record equaling 4th win at the TITC, he said, ‘at the start of the run he is strong but in the middle my car is better. It was close but then he spun out.  Everything is super tight’.  A slower run than Q1 by almost 2-seconds, asked if he was able to improve his car between rounds having found his X4 ‘tricky to drive’ in the middle of round 1, he said, ‘it was still difficult to drive so if we can solve that for tomorrow we have a very good chance.’

Asked about his run Volker replied, ‘to be honest I am very disappointed.  I was in the lead and everything seemed fine but then I did a 360.  I’m not sure how.  I lost it on a bump I guess and handed it to Bruno.’  The Mugen Seiki driver continued, ‘I shouldn’t be too disappointed because it’s complaining on a high level but it would have been nice to get a TQ and go into the next day even (with Coelho).  One year ago I was having one of my worst races so it is great how well things are going this year so far but I need to do a better job tomorrow.’  Setting the fastest lap of Q2, on his MTC-2R’s performance he said, ‘the car was great.  Like everyone it is not easy to drive but it had the pace.’

While repeated his Q1 result Hagberg was very positive about his second effort.  A double winner of the TITC, he said, ‘that was really good.  I was able to lead for a bit.’  He continued, ‘I was able to push the car very hard but maybe I pushed too hard and overheated the tyres because I started to struggle with staying on my lines and lost contact with the Top 2.’   Explaining he had a bit of a scare before the start when his car got hit by another driver, he said ‘luckily the car was ok’ and looking to tomorrow’s concluding two rounds of qualifying he said if he can ‘maintain (his) driving lines’ for the 5-minutes he is confident he can be in the mix.

Explaining that a set-up change for Q1 left him with a ‘very nervous’ car resulting him traction rolling on the first lap, Matsukura reverted back to his previous set-up and everything was ‘fine again’.  Suffering a crash at the chicane the former World Champion lost 1.5-seconds admitting he was luck to get 4th for the round over 3-seconds off the TQ pace.  With 2 of the four rounds to count, he said the focus for tomorrow is to get another good points finish in Q3 as he needs the points to try and lock himself into the A-Main.

After an additive mistake in Q1, Goto said he was able to realise the improved set-up they found for his car in this morning’s free practice.  16th fastest in seeding he said yesterday his car was ‘so, so’ but today it is working very good and some overnight set-up changes.  The 23-year-old said, ‘For Q1 I left the additive on for too long and I had no grip’.  The first race for the latest competitive touring car from the iconic Japanese brand, it great to see TRF’s Kiyokazu Suzuki and Takayuki Kono here and both racing, Goto said Q2 was a clean run and with the car working now he will stay with the same set-up for Q3 tomorrow.

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