WTCC Race of Thailand* - 05-06/11/2016
The modern, 12-turn Chang International Circuit was one of five new venues on the WTCC calendar for 2015 with the championship visiting Thailand for the first time for its first twilight race. Located in Buriram, which translates as City of Happiness in Thai, the track lies 410 kilometres northeast of the capital Bangkok. The circuit itself is a 4.554-kilometre state-of-the-art facility and its name comes from sponsorship agreement with a Thai brewery. It has been built to FIA and FIM standards in the hope of one day hosting Formula One and MotoGP. The circuit complex also houses a football stadium.
1: Construction of the £38 million Chang circuit began in March 2013. Local politician and former cabinet minister Newin Chidchob, who also owns the local football club, Buriram United, masterminded the project.
2: The floodlit track was built with the brief that as much of it as possible should be visible from the main 5,000-seat grandstand. As a result the pit garages are, rather unusually, located on the outside of the track.
3: The first races held at Buriram were on 4-5 October 2014 when it hosted the Japanese Super GT Series. A 130,000-strong crowd saw Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter take victory.
4: Thailand has 1,430 islands, with Koh Phi Phi Lee among the most famous. It featured in British director Danny Boyle’s 2000 film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
5: The capital Bangkok was once crisscrossed by dozens of canals or “khlongs” and its buildings stood on stilts, earning it the nickname Venice of the East. Most have now been filled in.
FLASHBACK 2015 (31 OCTOBER-1 NOVEMBER)
José María López capped a hugely impressive second season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship by making it back-to-back titles in style with victory in the opening WTCC Race of Thailand* for Citroën at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram. Honda’s Tiago Monteiro claimed the win in race two, which was halted with three laps left for safety reasons due to fading light, only to be excluded from the results following post-event technical checks. Honda Racing Team JAS has announced its intention to appeal the decision to the FIA International Court of Appeal. The race had been due to run for 14 laps and finish in twilight but its late start following the safety car period in the opening counter meant officials were left with no alternative other than to bring proceedings to a premature conclusion as darkness descended with Sébastien Loeb closing on Monteiro for top spot. With Loeb taking a win and a second place and Yvan Muller twice failing to score due to contact, the nine-time world rally champion is five points ahead of his Citroën team-mate heading to the WTCC’s inaugural night race in Qatar later this month, where the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy title for independent racers will be decided between Mehdi Bennani and Norbert Michelisz.
*Pending signature of event agreement
Name: Chang International Circuit
Location: 444/5 m.15, Buriram-prakhonchai road, Muang Buriram, Buriram, Thailand 31000
Length: 4.554 kilometres
Lap record (qualifying): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m37.916s (167.4kph), 01/11/15
Lap record (race): Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic), 1m39.275s (165.1kph), 01/11/15
WTCC RACE OF THAILAND WINNERS
2015: Race 1: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée)
WTCC RACE OF THAILAND VENUES
2015-Present: Chang International Circuit