A much-awaited, but surprise comeback saw Gaby Dela Merced rejoin TA2 Asia Racing halfway through the 2019 season. And this time, she had to go at it solo in what should have been a 2-driver race. Yet the Filipina still managed to deliver a pair of hard-earned podium finishes at the Bangsaen Grand Prix over the weekend, bring pride to her country.
Driving these chunky TA2 machinery, with their 500 hp V8s, are already a handful on the track. Imagine having to race one on a bumpy, tight 3.754 km street circuit lined wall-to-wall with armco barriers coming in with zero experience. Nevertheless, the lady driver soldiered on, taking everything she learned from the season opener in Malaysia and set a 1:50.135 lap good enough for P8 in Qualifying.
Gaby would then share the grid with 10 other cars during the first 40-minute race on Saturday. Siding with caution, she managed to survive the opening lap unscathed as the clock ticked away. But just as she began to settle into a rhythm, half the front bumper on the #60 Innovation B-Quik Racing Ford Mustang decided to fly off. Quick repairs in the pit allowed her to rejoin with very little time lost in P5 before the Safety Car came out. And with only a few minutes remaining, the track eventually went green.
She immediately came under attack from the #13 Tecpro Idemitsu Racing Camaro and had to spend the last few laps with one eye on the rear view mirror. Thankfully, Gaby managed to hold her opponent at bay and landed 5th place in a photo finish with just 0.030 secs separating the 2 cars.
With luck on her side, she delivered a repeat performance on Sunday. On this occasion Gaby maintained P9 for most of the race until the other teams began to falter one by one. The front runners ran into problems as they fought for the lead in the closing stages that catapulted the #60 Innovation B-Quik Racing entry up the standings. And the end of 17 laps, Gaby again took the chequered flag in 5th for a spot on the podium.
Gaby Dela Merced: “This whole experience has been more than great. Bangsean is the race I wanted to do the most in the TA2 Asia calendar, especially that I’ve never raced on a street circuit before. There’s just this wonderful energy you get from the city and its people. Big thanks to Craig and TA2 Asia for the ride, B-Quik Racing for an impeccable job, my mother and Pia for being there throughout the chaos, and the Thailand Super Series for a wonderful event.”
[Photos courtesy of Thailand Super Series & TA2 Asia Racing]