Wednesday, Jun 12 02:47pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Paul Manuell relishing “awesome” TA2 Asia experience

Former NZV8 and V8 Ute Series champion Paul Manuell is relishing a new-found love of motor racing in the TA2 Asia Racing series.


Manuell is two rounds into the five-round championship, which races on the Thailand Super Series support card.


After debuting in the series at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia earlier this year, Manuell took to Chang International Circuit last weekend for the second round. The series will also race on the Bangsaen Street Circuit and BIRA Race Circuit in Thailand later this year.




It was a successful outing for he and 16-year-old co-driver Jaylyn Robothom of Australia, who is currently racing in the Toyota 86 Racing Series. The pair won the opening one-hour race of the weekend and fought from the back of the field to finish third in the final race.


The pair have had Australian engineer Paul Forgie on board this season, who Manuell credits much of their success to. Forgie ran Greg Murphy during the V8 SuperTourer era and used to engineer for the likes of Marcus Ambrose and Shane van Gisbergen in the Supercars Championship.




After two rounds in the series Manuell says he’s enjoying the opportunity to race overseas during the New Zealand winter.


“They’re fantastic cars, god I wish they’d bring them to New Zealand,” Manuell told


“They’re a cool car to look at, to hear, and to drive. It’s a spectacle. They look good on track and as a package to me it’s where V8 racing is.


“I’ve finally got my head around the car. I love them to bits, they’re awesome. I could drive the things all day and you can see why the Yanks get tied up with the whole NASCAR thing. They’re animals to drive.


“The facilities up here are amazing too, especially [Chang]. As a drivers’ track it just has everything. A bit of undulation, cambered corners, off-cambered corners, fast straights and really technical corners and one really ballsy corner at 200 kph.”




The TA2 platform is an evolution of the successful Trans-Am format in North America. The parity-based silhouette series offers Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Challenge bodies but under the skill all the cars are identical. This year the TA2 Asia Racing organisers introduced their own custom-built Mercedes-AMG C63 body too.


The purpose-built space-frame chassis runs a LS3 6.2-litre V8 making 525hp (390kW) and is coupled with a six-speed paddle-shift sequential gearbox.


TA2 categories run in Asia, North America, northern Europe and closer to home in Australia. The series just across the ditch began with a small contingent of cars in 2017, but that’s since grown with 27 cars on the grid at the latest round and nearly 40 cars in the country.




The series is also one of the leading championships throughout Scandanavia due to it’s relatively low running cost. The turnkey cars cost around $130,000 NZD and can be bought into the country via Australia.


Brakes, tyres, wheels and other expendables are also relatively cheap. The cars run on 98 Octane pump fuel too.


Manuell said he’d like to see a TA2 series in New Zealand, but ultimately if people wanted an arrive-and-drive package they could easily do it cheaply in Thailand.  


“It’s really easy, just give me a phone call and I’ll put them in touch with the right person,” he said.


“It’s very cheap racing over here. I don’t want to take guys away from New Zealand motorsport, but for me, I’ve got racing in the winter in a cool part of the world. That’s the best thing for me.


“From May through to October I’m doing five or six trips to Thailand and it’s cheap.”




TA2 Asia Racing succeeding thanks to New Zealander


The TA2 Asia Racing series has only been up and running for two seasons. Now into year three, the championship has attracted international attention from drivers around the subcontinent.


With a grid of 15 cars and 30 drivers, Manuell said the series is going from strength to strength and that’s largely thanks to the category owner Craig Corliss (pictured above) and his son Jay.


“He’s a very enthusiastic character and would do anything to get more people into seats,” he said.


“He’s very helpful. He just wants to see a good, successful motorsport formula. He and his son Jay Corliss are doing a great job owning and running the class.


“They deal with the circuits and are befriended by a lot of people involved in motorsport throughout Asia at a very high level.


“They love it to bits. It’s quite an achievable series and they’ve done very well. I think it’ll be a big success over there, and that’s thanks to pure passion.”