James Nash leaves Thailand with lead but may need a new car for Singapore
James Nash leaves Buriram with the lead of the TCR International Series drivers’ championship after what looked set to be a disaster for the Briton after a heavy crash in testing on Friday. The new points leader says his focus is on making sure Craft-Bamboo Racing win the drivers’ championship at the season finale in Macau.
Nash’s Thai trip saw him take his best points haul of the season, despite racing with a damaged car which he almost feared was written off after a high-speed crash at Turn 3 on Friday.
His results in Thailand mean Nash will carry the maximum success ballast of 30kg on his SEAT León TCR next time out, with team-mate Pepe Oriola on 20kg and Volkswagen’s Stefano Comini with 10kg.
“We’ve been working hard over the summer break,” said Nash. “We’ve been studying data and working on our starts and how we can improve them, so thanks to the team, and also thanks to them for getting the car back out after the big accident.”
In Race 1, Nash moved up to third after a great start from sixth on the grid on lap one in Race 1, before taking advantage of an error from WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli at the hairpin at Turn 3 to grab second, while in Race 2, another storming start plus another pair of daring passes to get ahead of the two Hondas of Kantadhee Kusiri and Mikhail Grachev, again at Turn 3, saw him romp off into the distance to win by over seven seconds.
“I didn’t really expect to be so quick here, but the track really suits my style,” he added. “The first few laps on Friday I felt instantly quick, and despite the accident it didn’t knock my confidence too much, just a bit in qualifying, which probably gave me the best of both worlds in Race 1 and Race 2.”
Nash now leads the drivers’ championship by seven points over team-mate Oriola, with the two drivers now setting up a confrontation over the final three rounds to win their first TCR title, while the Leopard Racing Volkswagens of Stefano Comini and Jean-Karl Vernay remain close behind.
“For me there’s no change (in our approach),” said Nash to TouringCarTimes. “We exchange data, we talk about set-up with our engineers and go out and qualify, and it’s down to how we start and how we race. We haven’t really raced together very often in a tough battle, and we’re fairly different in different areas. We just need to work together to make sure we go to Macau and make sure one of us is in the position to win the championship for the team.”
The team now faces the dilemma of what to do with Nash’s car, which is still heavily damaged at the rear from his crash on Friday. The team won’t have the opportunity to repair the car before the penultimate round of the season at Sepang, when they can use one of their workshops to fully restore his León TCR, with their options reduced to fixing what they can with his current car, or borrowing one from one of the Asian TCR championships for the next round at Singapore on September 18th.