It’s not only about racing for a podium finish and that was precisely what awaited Hayden Haikal at the third round of the Thailand Super Series (TSS) race weekend. Despite being the fastest in practice in the Super Eco Class, mechanical problems forced Hayden to endure a very challenging weekend.
He qualified 11th and unlike his first appearance at the Bangsaen Street Circuit in Thailand last year where he was fighting for the top three positions, this year’s race with a new team and a new car placed the 18-year-old in 12th and 20th in the two races respectively.
His lack of pace around the 3.7-km street circuit was traced to an ailing engine and an 11th hour decision by his Thai team, Pipekids Racing, to replace the engine meant he would be at the disadvantage of starting the second race from the back of the grid.
“We were 10 – 15 km/h down on speed throughout qualifying and Race 1. We caught the problem late and it was due to a loss of engine compression. That then placed the team in a dilemma – to continue Race 2 knowing we are down on power or replace the engine and start from the back. In the interest of the team and in preparation of the next round, we arrived at the difficult decision to replace the engine with the hope of salvaging the race weekend,” said Hayden who, besides being contracted to race for Pipekids Racing, also assumes the role of a development driver. He was contracted to drive for Pipekids Racing after finishing runner-up in the Series in 2022.
“Personally, last weekend’s results will have a huge impact on my campaign for the championship this year with three more rounds remaining. Personal glory aside, I also have an even bigger professional responsibility to fulfill and that is to help develop both the new car and team, and I believe we made great strides amidst the challenging outcome. Like all new race teams, it takes time to develop a race-winning machine and for the team to become in sync. Inevitably, you do suffer setbacks but we are certain we will bounce back even stronger moving forward,” he said.
In three rounds, Hayden’s best drive for the team in its brand new Honda Brio Amaze has so far been to finish 2nd in Round 2 after beginning the season with 5th and 6th place finishes.
The Thailand Super Series is held over 6 rounds, with Rounds 1, 2 and 3 already completed. Round 4 (August 25 – 27) returns to the Chang International Circuit followed by Round 5 (September 15 – 17) at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix. The final round will be from December 14 – 17 again at the Chang International Circuit.