Featuring top Thai drivers in the Corolla 1.8 ESport, the team takes on seasoned European competitors in the 24-hour rip-roaring race
Every year, Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife – the longest and one of the most spectacular road tracks in the world – plays host to a huge four-day adrenalin-pumping motoring extravaganza, the ADAC Zurich 24h-Race. Besides attracting a record number of participants, the event – from June 19-22 – will also feature a team from Thailand.
Toyota Motor Thailand recently announced that it would pit Toyota Team Thailand driving the Corolla 1.8 ESport in the gruelling, spine-tingling yet highly exciting 24-hour race. The Thai team is made up of top drivers including Suttipong Smittchart, Natthavude Charoensukawattana, Nattapol Horthongkham and Sak Nana.
“The Nurburgring 24-hour race is one of the world’s top three 24-hour races,” said Suttipong, who doubles as the team manager. “Instead of using special racing cars, production cars from the showroom are modified to compete. This makes the race popular among carmakers around the world, since they are able to fully test the performance and capabilities of the car.”
The race is dominated by European teams and Toyota Team Thailand is the only Thai team taking the wheel.
“I think this is a very challenging event that tests every driver’s capabilities. With 24-hour races, both the car and driver must be in peak condition. With speeds of up to 200-250km/h on real roads and not on a race track, the 26km Nurburgring, with its 73 corners and elevation changes, has proven to be one of the tracks that race drivers from across the globe want to experience at least once in their lifetime,” he added.
All Toyota Team Thailand drivers needed to participate in preview events hosted by the organisers of the Nurburgring 24-hour race in order to qualify.
“It helped us gain experience in this type of race and allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the Nurburgring,” Suttipong said.
This year 282 cars are hitting the track. The Thai team is competing in the 1,601-2,000cc category. The team also has a Thai chief mechanic and Japanese engineer, who works with the European service crews.
“Every driver must also do more homework because we need to remember the whole course and make sure we strictly follow the rules and regulation,” Suttipong pointed out.
He said there are only two teams from Asia participating this year.
“We are the first team to represent Thailand and the second team from Asia. Everyone including the racers as well as the media are closely watching us, so we have to be careful and do our best,” he said.
“The goal in taking part for the first time is not victory or trophies, but for the drivers and service team members to gain experience. We will then use that experience to improve our team for the race next year.”
Nattavude pitched in: “This is a new experience for all of us and we’d like everyone to follow and cheer for us on via www.toyotateamthailand.com or at Facebook/ToyotaTeamThailand from June 19-22 direct from Germany.”