After a long summer break the TCR International Series started the final part of the season on the Buriram track in Thailand. The Astras of team Opel DG Sport Compétition were again among the frontrunners, but bad luck meant the Belgian squad just missed out on its first win.
Already in qualifying Mat’o Homola showed he is among the quickest drivers in a series that becomes more competitive in each race. After meticulously setting up his car during the free practice sessions, the DG Sport Compétition driver conquered his third pole position of the season, after Bahrain and Salzburg. “I like this Buriram track a lot and I had a perfect set-up for the Astra to be able to attack during qualifying”, the Slovakian youngster stated. “When I had a small problem in Q1 the team had a quick reaction, which allowed me to go through to Q2. There I could go flat out, to prove that the Astra TCR is extremely efficient on this type of circuit.”
The next day the air was still hot and humid, when the pack was released for the first race. Thanks to a perfect getaway Mat’o Homola ran away from the rest of the drivers, who were led by Norbert Michelisz, one of the aces of modern touring car racing. The #70 Opel Astra managed to create a five-second gap and looked set for a first win. But at the start of the penultimate lap the dream turned into a nightmare: puncture at the left front! A gutted Homola had to park the car in pitlane.
Following the reverse grid system, Mat’o Homola had to start the second race from tenth on the grid. He tried to forget the disappointing end of the first race to get a good result and after some fierce fighting he crossed the line in ninth, scoring two points. “His performances in qualifying and the – unfortunately too short – first race show how Mat’o is now completely at ease at the wheel of the Opel Astra”, said Christian Jupsin, team principal of DG Sport Compétition. “He really deserved this first win… But I am sure it will come soon.”
For the eighth of ten meetings of the 2017 TCR International Series, the second Opel Astra of DG Sport Compétition was in the hands of Thai driver Munkong Sathienthirakul. It was his first meeting at this level and he finished in very creditable 14^th and 12^th positions, which meant a double podium finish in the category of the local drivers: “ ‘Turbo’ is his nickname and this weekend Munkong showed us why”, Christian Jupsin smiled. “He has made some great progress all during the weekend, without making any mistakes. He’s a great guy and a great driver, for sure! The Buriram weekend again showed that the team is very competitive, whatever the circumstances or whatever the type of circuit, from the Georgian cold to the hot and humid conditions in Thailand. See you in a month on the new Chinese track of Zhejiang for the penultimate round of the championship!”