Still fresh from its maiden Singapore GP outing, the #55 ENsport Audi R8 LMS Evo II arrived at the Buriram International Circuit at the end of October ready to race once more. But it had a new (yet familiar) name affixed next to its trusty owner Vincent Floirendo – someone who proved to be very effective in helping the Filipino driver score a pair of podium finishes in Thailand.
Ex-DTM and GT1 driver Markus Winkelhock has been called up to share driving duties for this penultimate and the final event of Thailand Super Series (TSS) season. And while Vincent managed the 8th fastest time in QTT1 with a 1:38.358 best, Markus simply blew away the competition on his very first official outing. Flexing over two-decades’ worth of motorsport experience, the German driver stopped the clock at 1:34.020 to set pole in QTT2 and made it look easy.
Vincent was first in the driver’s seat for Race 1 on Saturday. However, with a full tank of fuel and a used pair of tires, he had the difficult job of muscling the #55 Audi R8 LMS Evo II around the 4.554 km Hermann Tilke-designed FIA Grade 1 track. The car felt heavy and sluggish he admitted, but did respectably well to stay in position until the mid-race driver change. He then handed the car over to Markus who rejoined the track like a bullet. The racing legend tore through the field, climbed his way up to 5th and already had the #89 Singha Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 in his sights when the chequered flag came out.
It was Markus’ turn to take the start on Sunday. With pole position and a brand new set of tires, he peeled away from the rest of the 19-car grid as soon as the lights turned green. The next half hour was then spent on clocking consistently quick laps to build sizable a gap, while setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Vincent later jumped behind the wheel during the mandatory pit stop and went back out still in the lead. The pressure was on for the Filipino driver who was now the target for the rest of the GT3 runners. The much faster #11 Vattana Honda NSX eventually caught up to him, followed by the equally-quick #25 B-Quik Absolute Audi R8, both of which Vincent allowed to go by as not to risk getting into a costly race incident. After 37 laps of racing, the #55 ENSport Audi safely made it to the finish line in 3rd to secure the Filipino driver’s best finish of the 2022 season so far.
The Thailand Super Series (TSS) will head back to Buriram International Circuit on the 8th/11th of December where both Vincent and Markus hopes to close the season on a high.
Vincent Floirendo: “Challenging weekend at Buriram, but great results racing with Markus. Just wanted to finish both races with no incidents unlike my last race here when we had a big collision that resulted in a DNF. Overall, I’m very happy we finished 3rd which is my best result this year. It was hard work and looking forward to the season finale in December and to race again with Markus.”