The All Star Professional Thailand Drift Series 2011 was the most intense series I’ve ever competed in. Definitely the toughest championship after Formula Drift Asia. The biggest difference would be that all the drivers are committed to every round of the series.
It all started when we were at Formula Drift Qatar. When we finished in 2nd position after Tanner Faust, Red Bull Drift Team Thailand offered us a drive in the Thai series for 2011 season. At that time we had no commitment for 2011 season and Thailand seemed like a great option as it would be something new and challenging for the team.
We agreed to take part in the All Star Series 2011 and started preparing the car and parts for round 1 of the season. The All Star Series is a power packed with 2 championship rounds per weekend, averaging 50 cars. Practice time is limited (we probably got 5laps max during free practice) and straight after qualifying for Top 32. If you were there to learn something, it’ll be a total waste of time.
We made our way up to finals in Rd1 but lost out to Saranon as I was thrown off guard with a feint entry while chasing. Rd2 on the next day was no short of dramas either. We reach the final 4 only to be greeted with torrential rain. The track was flooded ankle high and the event was called off. They rescheduled it to be held in between Rd3 & 4.
After the first weekend, I realized this was going to be a tough championship. We were going up against the best Thailand had to offer. D-Kohkae from Team Goodyear was always topping the qualifying chart, Saranon from Team M-150 was so consistent in both qualifying and tandem, Somchai from Team RedBull totally killing it no matter what the layout was and not forgetting all the other Thai drivers who drove with full commitment like drift was a matter of life & death.
We shipped the car back immediately after the first weekend as we knew we had to up our game. We made more changes in search of speed and grip. Yeah, I had one of the lowest in HP cars on the grid. Seriously, the Thai’s got game!
Rd3 & Rd4 was no short of drama’s. I was knocked out in Top 16 after I missed a gear going into the main turn. That knocked me off the championship lead. That same day we had the continuation of Rd2’s Final 4. I worked my way up to the finals after beating D-Kohkae but slammed the car real hard into the wall at initiation due to a random cone lying on the track. The cone wedged itself between the rear tire where I momentarily lost grip and it dragged the car straight to the wall.
Both finalists were awarded 1st place as it was the fault of the organizer. We got the points, but the car was pretty banged up and we had Rd4 the next day! The crew fixed up the car over night. The body work was fixed by next morning but we couldn’t swap the bent rear subframe, so we had to run what we got. It wasn’t ideal but what the heck, we needed to get as much points as possible to keep our championship hopes alive.
The crew did an amazing job to get the car fixed. We lost some traction at the rear which was caused by the bent subframe but we still managed to qualify in top position earning us 3 points. I worked my way up the chart but lost out in the final 4. Somchai from team RedBull was on form and knocked me off and claimed 3rd spot.
By the end of 4 rounds I was trailing in 2nd, 14 points away from the leader Saranon of Team M-150. The championship was still wide open with 2 rounds to go for the season. As most of you heard in the news, Bangkok and parts of Thailand was flooded end of last year which cause major rescheduling of events. The All Star Series cancelled 2 rounds out of the total 8 rounds and Round 5 & 6 moved to 2012 at Bonanza Speedway.
With 2 rounds to go, 14 points away from the leader and 3rd place, D-Kohkae right behind ready to capitalize on your misfortunes, we were up for a tough weekend. RedBull was leading the team championship throughout the year but with a very small margin. So we had 2 things to work on securing, the team championship & drivers championship. The pressure was on for both Team M-150 & Team RedBull Thailand.
I’ve personally been to Bonanza Speedway once for testing with the team. Awesome layout & ideal for insane drifts. All Star ran reverse to what I tested previously. They laid out a 200m front straight, fast 1st corner, blind, downhill, off camber, approaching turn 2 followed by the finish line.
The car performed well, I felt relaxed and enjoyed every inch of what Bonanza Speedway had to offer. Andy Yen from Formula Drift USA was invited by the organizers to judge the final 2 rounds.
D-Kohkae from Team Goodyear was absolutely killing it all weekend qualifying in a dominant 1st position on both days. I wrapped up Rd5 with a win after D-Kohkae entered turn 1 too hot putting himself in the wall and making my path to victory look easy. Points in the bag and we’re now championship leader by a small margin heading into Rd6, the final round of the All Star Professional Thailand Drift Series 2011.
Rd6 kicked off Sunday morning and the pressure was on for Team M-150. The course remained the same as Rd5 and I was really comfortable with it. It was time to bring the both championship titles home!
I tried my best to knock D-Kohkae from top qualifying spot, but hats off to him. He proved himself superior to the rest of the field on this course. D-Kohkae totally buried the field with a 91 point run. I trailed behind with a 85.4. Anyway, the points are more important and we managed to score another 2 precious points heading to Top 16.
Again we worked our way right up to the Final 4 and I was up against Saranon. Whoever progresses from here seals the driver’s championship and I wasn’t going to let it go so easily. I drove hard and smart trying not to push the judges to call a OMT. And we did it! I beat Saranon and advanced to the finals securing the driver’s championship for 2011!
The Finals was against D-Kohkae and this time I was fighting to secure the team championship title. Both of us had clean runs but I put in a little bit more aggression on chase & totally hanged loose on my lead run securing the win & the team championship for 2011.
What a weekend! Winner for both Rd5 & 6 + 2 championship titles. Can’t get any better than this!
I would like to thank Team RedBull Thailand & my major sponsor Bridgestone Tires Malaysia for giving our team this opportunity to compete in the All Star Professional Thailand Drift Series 2011. Glad we could return the support by delivering both Overall Driver Championship & Overall Team Championship 2011!