The last race meeting at the Bira Circuit saw the
local championships decided, with all of the championships going right
down to the wire.
The Sport Challenge class was won by Chaivut
Puengthong. This is the ‘starter’ formula for drivers to move on
to brighter and better things. Let’s see if he continues to shine
next year after moving up.
In the sedan car classes, the smaller Class C (1.6
litres) was won by Songsak Komsiviseubsakul in the Nick Racing Honda
Civic, while the larger engined Class B (2 litres) was won by Polsakda
Hongchadchaval in another Honda, sponsored by Pola Pola Racing.
Class A and the Thailand Touring Car Championship
was won by Nattavud Jareansukawattana in the Toyota Team Thailand
Corolla Altis. Toyota also won the teams classification, and I believe
deservedly so, as they turn up with immaculately presented motor cars
at each meeting, and the smoothness of Nattavud belies his speed.
“Pete” carries the number 2 position well, and what he lacks in
raw speed he makes up for in raw pulling power, being the most
photographed driver in pit lane!
The Sport Grand Champion class was a Singha Beer
benefit all year, with Piti Bhirombhakdi narrowly edging out his elder
brother. (Series organizer and the push behind the locally produced
Sport Grand Champion vehicles, Prutirat Seriroengrith won the final
round, just to show he can still do it, and used it as a warm up event
before competing in Macao earlier this month.)
The final race meeting of the year for the AIM sponsored races will
be on Sunday December 7.
Kia has had a chequered career in the Thailand
motor industry. Pre 1997 the brand was handled by Premier Motors, but
post-crash it looked as if Kia was going to go down the gurgler as
well. However, Yontrakit picked up Kia after it had lost BeeEmm, and
now Yontrakit assembles the Carnival, as well as selling the Sorento,
Carens and Pregio.
has had some very faithful customers in the past, and the sales of Kia
are rising in Thailand. In Australia, the brand is booming, and our
Down-Under correspondent John Weinthal has just spent a week with the
3.5 litre V6 engined Sorento SUV. John headed his piece as “Simply
great value.” Here are the Words from Weinthal.
“Korean motor manufacturer Kia Automotive has
made a rapid impact in Australia. In October 2003 it displaced
Mercedes Benz as No. 10 in the bestseller charts down under. The
company offers a growing range of sedans and hatchbacks,
four-wheel-drives and the top-selling Carnival people mover as well as
light commercials (Pregio). This year Kia has seen a 41% growth in
sales in a record-breaking market in Australia, but one which has
grown by a much lower 10.4%.
second four-wheel-drive, after the five-door 2 litre AUD 25,000
Sportage, is the fully-equipped and stylish 3.5 litre 154kW V6-engined
Sorento. It was launched earlier in 2003 as an auto-only model costing
AUD 38,000. More recently a 5 speed manual has been added at a saving
of AUD 2000. (In Thailand the Sorento comes with a 4 speed auto and a
2.369 million baht price ticket - that’s AUD 87,700 - more than
twice the price of the Aussie vehicle - thank you Mr. Tax Man!)
“This is a full body-on-chassis, high ground
clearance wagon with advanced crash resistance in the form of side,
front and rear crumple zones equivalent to most cars. It can be
switched from rear drive to high or low range four-wheel-drive with a
twist of a fascia-mounted knob.
“A medium-large wagon it is longer and wider than
a Jeep Cherokee, with a wider track than the Mercedes M or BMW X5 and
it has more luggage space than a Land Rover Discovery.
“Standard gear includes air con, cruise control
and eight speaker sound system to such niceties as twin illuminated
vanity mirrors, sliding sun visors, overhead display (thermometer,
altimeter, barometer and compass), remote keyless entry, power windows
and mirrors, panic alarm and engine immobilizer.
“A myriad of clever storage facilities includes a
large glove box and two bins in the central arm rest. There is 900
litres of luggage space under a luggage cover expandable to 1960
litres by folding the 60/40 split rear seating.
“It has twin air bags and four-wheel disc brakes
but, unusually these days, ABS is an option. (The Thai version has ABS
as standard equipment.) Alloy wheels, remote opening rear window and a
roof rack with adjustable cross bars are also standard.
“The 154 kW V6 has plenty of grunt but its 1996
kg - let’s call it two tonnes - weight means that Sorento is no
sprinter, but nor is it a slouch. The engine is hushed, but when
pressed it produces a pleasingly powerful V6 thrum. On good surfaces
it is impressively refined and quiet.
“The story is not so good on typical pock-marked
suburban roads and dirt. The suspension bumps and thumps loudly and
sometimes uncomfortably. Body roll is more pronounced than with most
competitors and the ride can become choppy on undulating surfaces.
“While the suspension was the only downfall of
the test Sorento, it is a significant one. It was the more surprising
in view of the obvious thought that had gone into everything else
about the vehicle and its sturdy, quality feel. Sorento’s
body-on-frame construction comes into its own off road. Even when
crawling over body-twisting tracks there are no creaks, groans or
rattles. It has good approach and departure angles to avoid front or
rear bumpers scraping in the dirt. A relatively nimble 36 foot turning
circle makes tackling heavier bushland less difficult.
“The Kia at least matches most of its under AUD
50,000 competitors off road, while beating them hands down in outright
value. Those who confine themselves mainly to town and highway
cruising will appreciate the refinement, performance and lavish and
practical standard equipment levels of their under AUD 40,000 Sorento,
be it manual or automatic.
“Sorento is undoubtedly good value, but there’s
work still to be done to make the suspension more appropriate to
(Thank you John. With our choked roads, it probably
doesn’t matter how it handles! Dr. Iain.)