The threat from the Pro Class entries were the least of Vincent Floirendo’s problems when the 2023 TSS The Super Series got underway in April. With track temperatures reaching 54 deg. C coupled with Thailand’s high humidity, it quickly became a fight for survival rather than a fight to the finish. Despite the poor conditions, he and co-driver Markus Winkelhock were able to overcome the heat and land a much-deserved spot on the podium.
The Filipino driver’s best efforts put them P7 in QTT1. Markus, on the other hand, utilized all his years of experience in sports car racing to put the #55 EN Sport by Absolute Audi R8 LMS GT3 in P2 during QTT2, missing pole by only 0.235 secs.
A fourth row start, however, was of little concern for the Pro-Am duo as they had a solid strategy for Race 1. Vincent managed a clean getaway for the first 1-hour race of the weekend and gained a spot in the opening stages. He would drive a solid stint to keep their rivals within reach before handing the car over to Markus once the pit window opened for a driver change. It then became a sprint to the chequered flag with the German ace powering his way through the field and into a 3rd place finish, while setting the fastest lap of the race in the process around the Chang International Circuit.
Converting a front row start into a win proved to be more difficult in Race 2 than they thought. The plan was for Markus to take the lead, open up a big enough gap in front, allowing Vincent to rejoin still in P1, and maintain it to the finish line. Markus did exactly as told and was in control of the race by lap 9. What they didn’t anticipate was a Lexus RCF GT3 stalling in the middle of the track, which brought out the Safety Car. This bunched up the entire field and wiped out all their advantage.
Vincent he had to stick his elbows out as soon as he got into the driver’s seat, fighting door-to-door for position. Racing in those conditions, however, was not easy. The temperatures were not only punishing for the driver in the car, but also for the slick tires that began to melt on the boiling asphalt and provided no grip. He had to wring every ounce of performance from their Audi R8 LMS GT3 to make it to the flag in 4th.
After an exciting season opener in Buriram, the TSS The Super Series is heading to one of the most exciting races in the 2023 calendar. The championship will be part of the iconic Bangsaen Street Circuit on the 27th of June to 2nd of July, home of the Bangsaen Grand Prix.
Vincent Floirendo: “I’ve never raced in conditions this hot. Fortunately had a cool suit on, air conditioning, and a water system for me to rehydrate in the car. It was definitely a challenging first race of the year, but glad we finished 3rd and 4th earning good points for the championship. Now looking forward to the Bangsaen GP street race in June.
[Photos by Matt Romualdez]