Kevin Gleason achieved a fourth place finish to lead WestCoast Racing’s charge in the penultimate round of the 2015 TCR International Series at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit, but the weekend ended in disappointment as the American fell out of title contention (24-25 October).
Gleason arrived in Thailand lying fifth in the standings with a mathematical shot at winning the inaugural TCR International Series title and he drove impeccably to qualify third for the first of two races on the state-of-the-art Buriram Circuit, despite carrying 20kg of success ballast following a triumphant outing in Singapore.
A relatively poor start to race one saw Gleason lose out to Jordi Gene and Sergey Afanasyev on the initial approach to the first corner, but the young American spent the entire race latched on to the tail of the frontrunning Craft-Bamboo trio, including overall leader Pepe Oriola.
Unable to find a chink in his SEAT counterparts’ armour, Gleason held position and received the chequered flag as the top WestCoast Racing charger in fourth, but now mathematically out of the TCR International title race with one race remaining in Buriram and two others on the barrier-lined streets of Macau.
The weekend would end with more disappointment for Gleason, as a punctured tyre and damaged right-rear wheel took him out of contention just before his teammates succumbed to damage and mechanical maladies.
Somewhat deflated, Gleason reflected on events by saying: “It was a very tough weekend for everybody at WestCoast Racing. We had quick cars and thankfully Gianni (Morbidelli) and I were up front in free practice, qualifying and the first race. I had bad starts to both races – they were horrendous – and I’ll have to look into what happened, because I don’t think I did anything different to before.
“As a result, I went backwards, losing my good track position but inheriting fourth when Gianni served his drive-through for jumping the start. I had a lot of understeer in the car and couldn’t move forward, so I concentrated on keeping up with the top three.”
Gleason continued: “Another bad start from eighth meant I got swamped in race two; my engine temperatures rose significantly due to the delayed start and I experienced a loss of power through Turn 1. On the second lap I tried to overtake another car and there was some contact, which caused a puncture and put me a lap down.
“I’m now looking ahead to the season finale in Macau, which is a bucket list race for me. It’s something I’m really looking forward to and I’m just going to go in and push as hard as I can to get a good result, with no titles to fight for.”