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Phuket Sports: F1 – Spa favors the brave

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: F1 – Spa favors the brave | The Thaiger

PHUKET: This weekend Formula 1 is back from an agonizingly long half-term break. And it’s Spa – one of my favorite tracks in F1 as it tests drivers more than any other in the world.

Along with Monza it is the fastest circuit of year because the corners need to be taken flat out.

The drivers will corner Eau Rouge and Blanchimont at over 330 kilometers an hour to get a fast run onto the straights after them.

Traction is vital at places such as La Source hairpin, where tyre grip is key to a clean exit. In Eau Rouge, each front tyre is subjected to a peak vertical load exceeding 1000kg. The tyres take a beating.

Having negotiated the La Source hairpin, drivers race down a straight to where the track crosses the Eau Rouge stream before being launched steeply uphill into a sweeping left-right-left set of corners culminating in a blind summit, where drivers cannot be quite sure where they will land.

Raidillon demands enormous skill to negotiate well. It is critical too, because the Kemmel Straight that follows produces excellent overtaking opportunities for the best drivers at the Les Combes corner.

A less than perfect job tends to result in a very heavy shunt as the rear of the car takes over. Jacques Villeneuve describes as “My best-ever crash” his spectacular 1999 exit in qualifying, swiftly followed by his team-mate’s copycat accident.

The left-hander at Blanchimont is one of the most fearsome turns in F1.This is the final sweeping corner of the track before the Bus Stop Chicane, which leads to the pit straight. This turn is unforgiving, and has seen many big accidents.

The run-off area is narrower than in comparable turns on most other circuits, and just to focus the mind, behind the barriers lurks an 8 meter drop.

Despite the straight-line speeds in Spa, the cars run a medium down-force set-up to optimize grip through the fast corners.

The cars are at full throttle 75 per cent of the time, which quickly builds tyre temperature, particularly if an aggressive camber set-up is used to maximize grip.

Pirelli has opted to provide the hardest tyres of the season. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said “The nomination of hard and medium tyres will allow drivers to push hard from start to finish, which is what Spa was designed for.”

With all the compressions, getting the ride height and suspension travel correct is vital as otherwise the cars could bottom out at some parts of the circuit.

Tyre deformation under load comprises nearly half a car’s total suspension travel.

The Ardennes Forest has very unpredictable weather and in the old longer circuit there were often areas where it was raining, and other parts where the sun was shining and the track was completely dry.

In those days it was the most dangerous race track in the world. It is somewhat tamed now. But it still has a wet and dry side, and is still very special and exciting.

Every driver would like to win at Spa; it is the drivers’ circuit. But who will take the big points? I shall chance my arm and say that I think Hamilton will be a very strong contender, as will Raikkonen and they both need the points to claw their way to the front of the Drivers’ Championship. Rosberg, Schumacher, Grosjean and Button could be there too. It looks hard for Ferrari and Red Bull to shine here, but who knows?

The race is on Sunday at 7 pm, and the practice is at the same time on Saturday. It is shown live on the Big Screen at The Green Man, Chalong. Click here for more information.

— The Digby

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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