2019 - TITC 2019
FEB 28-MAR 3 BANGKOK, THAILAND
After spending the previous few months mainly racing indoors on carpet, the TITC in Thailand has become the race that starts off the outdoor racing season and as always is hugely popular event with drivers from around the world. Last year the race was one of the highlights of the 2018 season for our EP team as Akio took the biggest win of his career there. Now the 17th year of Asia's biggest and most famous race, the team made the trip to the 30+ degree temperatures of Bangkok looking to defend the title.
While the majority of factory teams take advantage of the week of testing at the RC Addict track, it is not until the Thursday that the race officially starts and it was to prove a positive first day. Having made his debut for Infinity 3-weeks previous on carpet at ETS Daun in Germany, Viktor put his IF14 top of the practice time sheets. Not a bad start to his first asphalt outing! Marc backed up the performance with the second fastest time so overall things looked strong. Akio would also seed in the top heat with the 7th fastest 3-consecutive laps just ahead of Jilles with Naoto 11th quickest.
Friday consisted of a not so busy day for the drivers with 2 of the 4 rounds of qualifiers on the schedule. With the high temperatures, the big challenge was maintaining consistency over a full 5-minute run with many drivers suffering a big drop off towards the end. Naoto was able to best manage this in the opening qualifier with the second fastest time that split the Xray team. Setting the fastest lap of Q1, his overall time was half a second off the TQ set by Hagberg. Marc had a solid opener putting down the fourth fastest time ahead of Jilles. Akio kicked things off with a P7. With a two hour turn around between rounds, Naoto managed a more consistent Q2 with a faster TQ time than the first one putting him as the provisional overnight TQ holder. After his slow start in Q1, Akio would improve to complete the Top 3 ahead of Viktor with Marc coming out with a 6th for his efforts.
On to Friday, the Modified qualifying schedule now moving from the morning to the evening, Q3 & 4 where always going to be the critical ones, especially the final round due to better, cooler, track conditions. Naoto picked up from where he left off the day before registering his second TQ in round 3 ahead of Hagberg, leaving him as his only remaining challenger for the overall TQ. As usual Q4 lived up to its 'Rocket Round' status with the first 20-lap runs of the weekend. Unfortunately for Naoto his run started badly but Akio rose to the challenge pushing Hagberg for the best time but he missed it by less than 2/10th tenths. With 2 TQ runs each, Naoto would lose out on the tie break due to the faster track conditions of Q4. Overall it was still a good grid for the team. Naoto was starting second, Akio 3rd, Viktor 5th, Marc 6th and Jilles 7th for a 50% IF14 A-Main line-up. Saturday night called for some well earned beers to cool down ahead of Sunday's A-Main action. Qualifying would also see a strong performance from Jitse in the Formula class as he took his IF11 to P2 on the grid with Trin securing P4. Unfortunately the single 15-minute A-Main race which features a mandatory tyre change didn't go to plan for either driver so they didn't get to challenge for the podium. In the biggest class at the TITC, Open Brushless 13.5, Dominic qualified 8th out of the 103 entries and managed to convert that into a 6th place in the triple A-Mains.
With the arrival of Modified A-Main No.1, Naoto was fully up for it and early in the race got alongside Hagberg on a number of occasions with Akio close in toe. Having to check up to avoid contact with Naoto, this allowed Coelho to get by Akio. Contact from Coelho on Naoto in the sweeper leading onto the straight soon after would end hopes of an A1 win - Akio coming home second and Viktor 4th. With two and half hours to put A1 frustration behind him, Naoto knew what he need in A2 - all or nothing. Unfortunately with Akio this time having his race spoiled by contact from Coelho, this left Naoto some breathing space to take the fight to Hagberg. Again shadowing the leader's every move he just couldn't find a way passed and so Hagberg secured the win again in A2 and the title was decided. With the forced bad result for A1, Naoto still had to deliver a result in A3 and he duly did. Posting the fastest 5-minute time of the weekend he led an Infinity 1-2 from Akio that would secure them 2nd and 3rd respectively on the overall podium. Jilles, Viktor and Marc made it five IF14s in the Top 7 a result that bodes well for the rest of the outdoor racing season with the next big one the third round of the ETS in Madrid Spain in a months time.