FIM Asia Supermoto 2017 opens in Thailand

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The third season of the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship was launched officially yesterday, with six rounds scheduled between September and the end of the year.

The series is growing quickly. Following a successful inaugural season, numbers of entries, spectators and TV viewers shot up in 2016 and are expected to show a big increase this year, as riders from 14 countries prepare for Round 1, which will be held at Thailand Circuit, Nakhonchaisri on 2nd and 3rd September.

15541628_1376852562334454_8700175395535586807_nSupermoto owes its burgeoning popularity to its hybrid road and dirt circuits, which attract riders and fans from all branches of motorcycle racing, and to its broader appeal as an extreme street sport. As safety concerns arising from the absolute speed of superbikes and Grand Prix machines literally push fans further away from the action, crowds attending supermoto races are able to get close enough to smell tortured tyres and brake pads without putting themselves in danger. The spectacle of motorcycles drifting, jumping and changing surfaces also means that people who know nothing about the sport can enjoy it, which opens it up as an exciting day out for families and groups, which may otherwise have never considered watching motorsport.

In essence Supermoto turns the traditional idea of circuit racing on its head. With some fencing, used tyres and a few truck loads of dirt, a supermoto track can quickly be set up in a city centre car park, thereby bringing the sport to the fans rather than requiring them to travel on clogged up roads to and from out-of-town, purpose built circuits.

Coverage for the new season is also taking big step forward, as promoter, Asia Supersports Group (ASG) partners with OTT* channel provider, twenty3.tv to provide HD live streaming and Video on Demand for every round. In addition, a 30 minute highlights program will also be broadcast on Fox Sports. To cover all bases, a mobile app is also being developed by the Bangkok office of E-Plus Entertainment Productions.

20861993_1624038314282543_7801113664814519974_oThe opening round of the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship will run together with R2M Unleash the Beast, an innovative series for naked bikes, comprising many classes of on and off-road competition, from Gufba Kids mini bikes to the heavyweight R2M Nuke Super Adventure category. Entitled ‘R2M Unleash the Beast, Episode 2: Rock-a-Willy’ the host event will provide its characteristic carnival atmosphere, together with live entertainment, including a rock band, parts and merchandise shopping as well as a wide choice of food and drink throughout the weekend.

*OTT stands for ‘over the top’, which means that the event is broadcast directly over the internet rather than through cable or satellite television systems that control and distribute content.

Points bonanza for home riders in ARRC Round 4 at Sentul

Declaration of Interest: Barry Russell was FIM Asia Jury President for Idemitsu Asia Road Racing Championship Round 4. Opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of FIM Asia

Links are to my articles on the official Asia Road Racing website

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Once again at Sentul for Round 4 of the Idemitsu Asia Road Racing Championship, we were reminded of how difficult the circuit is for visiting riders.

The deteriorating, bumpy track surface and weed-strewn gravel traps are reminders that, despite the packed, raucous grandstands and Indonesia’s huge motorcycle market, investment in the 24 year-old circuit is not considered to be a priority.

Despite it being a shadow of the track that hosted two motorcycle Grand Prix and two World Superbike rounds in the 1990s, Indonesian teams and riders love to race there, because it is so difficult for visitors to achieve a set up that can neutralise their home advantage. Astra Honda is a prime example. With a big national distributorship and a close relationship with HRC, they have been able to retain the best Indonesian riders and get their CBR250RRs and 600RRs as good as these machines can be. Witness Gerry Salim, who took a double Supersport 600 win in the premier Asian series in 2016 and repeated the feat in the Asia Production 250 class last weekend.

Having dominated practice and qualifying, the 20 year-old from Surabaya cruised to victory by a margin of 2.6 seconds in Race 1. By Race 2, his top rivals got closer and he was pushed all the way, but always looked like the inevitable winner. Revealingly, it was team mate, Andi Farid Izdihar who got closest, followed by the wily Tomoyoshi Koyama for Rama Honda and Anuparb Sarmoon, the only Yamaha rider to threaten the podium in Sunday’s race. The Thai rider rode the wheels off his R25, working visibly much harder than the three Hondas to stay with the front group.

In Supersport 600, Malaysian Zaqwan Zaidi threw down a serious challenge to the home riders, comfortably outpacing the rest in all practice and qualifying sessions. In the races it was a different story, however. In Race 1 he made a lacklustre start before coming through to challenge for a podium spot, narrowly missing out on third place to Japan’s Taiga Hada, with Ahmad Yudhistira and the winner, Dimas Ekky Pratama, ahead of the Japanese by just one tenth of a second. Dimas was Astra Honda’s replacement Supersport rider. In Race 2 Zaqwan scampered away from the lights only to crash heavily on lap 2 at Turn 10, which caused the red flag to come out. As the last rider came into pit lane, the heavens opened, delaying the restart for 10 minutes and enabling the Thai Yamahas of Decha Kraisart and Chalermpol Polamai to sandwich Yudhistira in the first three positions.

With honours up for grabs in eight races, or two for each of the four classes, Indonesian riders took five wins, which covered all classes, while Thai riders took two wins, one in Supersport 600 and the other in the Suzuki Asian Challenge and Malaysia took one win in Underbone Race 1.

Looking at the podium scores, Indonesians took 13 of the 24 places available. Thailand was next with four podiums, then Malaysia with three, ahead of Japan, which also had three, but no win, and Philippines, which had one.

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Punchana Kulrojchalalai, ARRC Round 4’s most successful visiting rider

The most successful rider of the weekend was Astra Honda’s Gerry Salim with his two AP250 wins, followed by Thailand’s Punchana Kulrojchalalai with a win and a second place in the Suzuki Asian Challenge and Ahmad Yudhistira who took two Supersport 600 second places for Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki. These three were the only riders to appear on the podium twice.

Several of the most successful non-Indonesian riders told me that they had to work harder than usual to bring in the points they achieved because of the difficulties of finding a set up that works for the fast, bumpy circuit. While motorsport fans and international teams long for a facelift for Sentul, it suits Indonesian competitors just fine, handing them an annual points boost as they move into the second half of the season.

Home riders grab early advantage at Sentul

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Declaration of Interest: Barry Russell is Jury President for FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Round 4

As the first races of Round 4 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship ran their course yesterday, it was Indonesian riders who grabbed most of the glory.

Astra Honda managed a podium lockout in Asia Production 250, with a three-pronged attack led by Gerry Salim who got clear of a pitched battle for second from the first lap and cruised to victory with a 2.6 second margin over team mates, Rheza Danica Ahrens and Andi Farid Izdihar, who just fought off a challenge by Japanese veteran, Tomoyoshi Koyama to grab third place by two thousandths of a second. Indonesian teenager, Galang Hendra Pratama was the first Yamaha home, taking fifth place on the line from Yamaha Thailand’s Anuparb Sarmoon. Imanuel Putra Pratna was seventh, while Peerapong Boonlert, Reynaldo Chrisantho Ratukore and Muklada Sarapuech completed the top ten. Followers of the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) will recall that Gerry pulled of a double win the the 600 class in 2016.

The race of the day was Supersport 600, as Astra Honda’s replacement rider, Dimas Ekky Pratama, pulled off a thrilling victory in Race 1 of the Asia Road Racing Championship Round 4 at Sentul.

I covered this race for the ARRC official website and my report is in the following paragraphs

When the red lights went out it and the RAMA Honda of Taiga Hada led into Turn 1 it became apparent that the dominance of practice and qualifying pacesetter, Zaqwan Zaidi, would face a tough test over 16 laps. The Malaysian slotted into second place, but was quickly pushed back to third by Dimas and then into fourth Ahmad Yudhistira on the Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki.

Dimas pushed his way past Hada to lead on lap 3, while Yudhistira and Decha turned up the pressure on Zaqwan for third, with Chalermpol and Ito at the rear of the pack. Ito low-sided onto the grass before rejoining the race with the hope only of rescuing a point or two.

By mid-distance Dimas was holding onto first position, though having to fight off Hada and alternately Yudhistira and Decha, with Zaqwan and Chalermpol keeping a watching brief behind. In the second group Azlan Shah, still nursing a hand injury, was battling for seventh with Anthony West on the Akeno Speed Yamaha and Ratthapong Wilairot on the AP Honda CBR 600RR.

Hada took third place back from Decha on lap 12 and looked like making it his own, as Zaqwan began threatened Decha’s fourth place and then relegated him to fifth.

As they entered the last lap, Yudhistira made his move, increasing the pressure on his countryman and taking the lead decisively. For a moment it looked as though he would get clear, but Dimas pushed back through at the back of the circuit and got to the chequered flag first, 33 thousandths of a second ahead of Yudhistira with exactly the same gap to Hada in third.

Zaqwan was fourth, having got clear of Decha as the Thai rider’s tyres went off. Chalermpol crashed on the final lap, handing sixth place to West. Azlan came in seventh, scoring enough to retain his championship lead, while Ratthapong, Keminth Kubo and Sena Yamada completed the top ten.

20728881_10154832962482304_8947766521437360933_oThe Indonesian party was spoiled in the Underbone 150 race, when Akid Aziz got the better of reigning champion Wahyu Aji Trilaksana to take the win and in the Suzuki Asian Challenge when Thailand’s Punchana Kulrojchalalai took first place ahead of April King H. Mascardo of the Philippines, with home rider Ahmad Saugi Muchtar completing the podium.

The local successes yesterday have guaranteed a big crowd today. As of 10:30 on Sunday the grandstands were already 75 percent full.

 

Thitipong keeps the upper hand with win number 5 at Thailand Circuit

Barry Russell is Jury President for the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship

Photos courtesy of Kaato Ztudios

20626730_10156137605672137_2898845313389146941_oKAWASAKI THAILAND’S THITIPONG WARAKORN stretched his lead in the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship by 5 points with his fifth win from seven starts in 2017 on the Kawasaki Thailand ZX-10RR.

Yamaha Thailand’s Anucha Nakcharoensri marked his intention to add a third win to this season’s tally by breaking his own Supeprbike lap record in Qualifying with a time of 1:19.383 to take pole position by 0.233 of a second from the championship leader. Thitipong’s team mate, Chaiwichit Nisakul, also dipped under 1:20 to complete the front row ahead of the rookie SB-2 field.

Thitipong got his customary holeshot with a faultless launch off the line to lead Anucha in Turn 1. Chaiwichit got too much air under his front wheel, which allowed Or on the Core Motorsport Kawasaki to grab third place and hold it for half of the first lap.

What followed was a spirited series of attacks on the leading Kawasaki by Anucha as the first two opened up a few bike lengths on Chaiwichit and the rest of the field. Thitipong, however, was as resolute as he was fast and retained an iron grip on first position. By lap 12, Anucha began to lose touch as his tyres went off, allowing the Dunlop-shod Kawasaki to build a margin of 1.7 seconds by the chequered flag. Eight seconds further back Chaiwichit completed the race in a solid third place in front of Thierry Perenon who took the Honda Elf IRC DID Smart Sport CBR 1000RR to the SB-2 win ahead of Aussawin on the UTR Racing Team Kawasaki and Rattasat on the GSL Yamaha.

20689605_10156137604972137_8672953525603827161_oTHE SUPERSTOCK 1000 race was keenly anticipated, after Ben Fortt had taken pole position with a new lap record on the Laiprang YSS Kawasaki with a lap of 1:20.542 on Saturday, almost half a second clear of Yamaha Thailand’s Anon Sangval. The SPW Performance Suzuki of Aekkachai Chiengwong was also in the hunt after clocking a best lap of 1:21.453. The team had sat out the previous two rounds at Thailand Circuit, so Aekkachai’s appearance on the immaculate 2017 GSX-R1000 was an exciting and welcome addition to the grid. Apidej Boonsri led Row 2 on 1:22.049 on his PTT NUDA 80 Racing Kawasaki, ahead of Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong’s Aprilia Thailand RSV4R Factory and the ST-2 Rookie field, which was headed by Thepparat on the Akehelmet Liquimoly Kawasaki.

20626859_10156137604382137_4040356275133533503_oAekkachai led from the start, before Anon and then Fortt got through. The Suzuki man stayed in close contact, snatching back second place briefly when Fortt outbraked himself into turn one. Fortt got a wheel in front with three tough, passing attempts but each one was met with a muscular response from Anon.

As the leaders began lap 15 they came up to lap Naruchit and Thepparat, who were fighting for third place in the ST-2 category. The first two got past Naruchit, but as Fortt came dived up the inside of Thepparat into Turn 4, he clipped Anon’s rear wheel and went down heavily, leaving second place to the SPW’s Aekkachai. With Fortt still being treated at the edge of the track, the red flag came out and the result was declared with Apidej promoted to third.

News from the Medical Centre was that Ben Fortt had two fractured bones in his left hand. Disappointment was clearly giving the Pattaya Iceman more pain than the physical knocks he took in his tumble.

20626417_10156137608887137_1460149542002504385_oFollowing an impressive Supersport 600 Qualifying performance by Pasawit Thitiwararak on the Thai Honda Racing Club CBR 600RR, who got within 0.7 of a second of Yamaha Thailand’s Prawat Yannawut, the question for the race was how close the up and coming Honda star could get to the championship leader over the 17 lap race.

From the start, Prawat took up what he clearly regards as his rightful place at the front. The newcomer, in his first Supersport outing at the Nakhonchaisri circuit, hounded him during the first corner, forcing the Yamaha rider to put the hammer down, recording the fastest lap of the race on his 20626194_10156137609817137_6005287376267320616_osecond lap as he sought to put some daylight between himself and the precocious Pasawit. By lap 13 the gap between them had stretched to around seven seconds as both riders lapped in the late 1:22s. Prawat eased back towards the end, to leave a gap of 5.2 seconds between first and second as they crossed the line.

In the SS-2 Rookie class, the X-Speed Racing Yamaha of Thanapon took the honours, well clear of Hirun on the Upgrade Bike Racing R6.

The next round of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike championship will be at Bira International Circuit on 9-10 September.

Another record for Anucha in Qualifying at Thailand Circuit

Declaration of Interest: Barry Russell is Jury President for the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship

Images courtesy of Ratchata Taniwira

Under cloudy skies on Saturday, Qualifying for Round 7 of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship caught fire in both the Superstock 1000 and Superbike sessions.

20615655_1988402974518638_2059033350931156897_oSuperbike SB-1 saw three riders dip into the 1:19s. It was the Thailand Kawasakis of Chaiwichit Nisakul and Thitipong Warakorn which led the way with laps of 1:19.957 and 1:19.616 respectively. Anucha Nakcharoensri cruised for the first few laps, found himself a space and pulled the pin, slipping into second place, then first, breaking his own lap record with a stunning 1:19.383. It proved to be unassailable and Thitipong had to settle for the middle of the front row, ahead of his team mate. Given the championship leader’s habit of getting off the line quickly, all eyes will be on who comes out of Turn 1 in the lead after the lights go out. Behind the first three, Or led the SB-2 field for Core Motorsport with a best lap of 1:24.166 ahead of the UTR Kawasaki of Aussawin, Rattasat on the GSL Yamaha and the Elf Smart Honda of Thierry Perenon.

20545307_1988394364519499_7608226232293510887_oIn Superstock ST-1 Ben Fortt carried the strong form he has shown all season into Round 7. In the early part of the session he played cat and mouse with championship leader, Anon Sangval, before really getting his head down to clock a new lap record of 1:20.542. Anon could not find an answer in the closing minutes, recording a best lap of 1:21.023. Aekkachai Chiengwong made a welcome return to Thailand Circuit on the SPW Racing Suzuki and recorded a lap of 1:21.453 to take third place. Apidej Boonsri had a subdued session by his standards and will start from fourth place on the grid after recording 1:22.049, while Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong managed 1:24.366 on the new Aprilia Thailand RSV4 Factory.

20626505_1989373671088235_3610589739378051739_oPrawat Yannawut, riding high after Yamaha Thailand’s victory in last week’s Suzuka 4 Hours, got down to business in Supersport 600 Qualifying, taking another pole position with a time of 1:22.355. With Ratchada Nakcharoensri on duty in the Powergirls class, Pasawit Thitiwararak was left unchallenged for second place. He once again closed the gap to the championship leader’s time, finishing the session 0.705 seconds adrift on the Thai Honda Racing Club CBR600RR. The X-Speed Racing Yamaha R6 of Thanaphon recorded 1:28.251 to lead the SS-2 contenders, ahead of the Miyata SC CR Honda of Nattapat.

This afternoon’s action will be streamed live on Wroommm!! TV and on YouTube

Game on at Nakhonchaisri as All Thailand Superbikes prepares for Round 7

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As MotoGP resumes at Brno after the summer break, the hotly contested FMSCT All Thailand Championship also moves in to the second half of the series, with Round 7 at Thailand Circuit.

20429896_1428936950536122_7912692034398078104_nThe Thai motorcycle racing community goes into the weekend on huge high following the successes of the two Thai teams at last week’s Suzuka 4 Hours Endurance race. Yamaha Thailand won from pole position, while AP Honda took fourth place among the 62 bikes entered. It was a resounding endorsement of the close ties that have been developed between the owners Thailand Circuit and the Japan’s Suzuka and Twin Ring Motegi tracks and further proof of the professionalism of Thai teams and their ability to win at international level.

THE SUPERBIKE SB-1 PROFESSIONAL class has been serving up surprises since Round 1, when Thitipong Warakorn took first place at the first time of asking on Kawasaki Thailand’s Dunlop-shod ZX-10RR. With race duration increased to 17 laps, the soft compound Pirellis on the factory Yamaha of Anucha Nakcharoensri did not stand up to the tougher test, leaving the former Moto2 star to take a convincing win.

Yamaha were quick to act on the lessons learned from their initial defeat and subsequent rounds have been much more closely fought. Thitipong took the first three wins, with Anucha crashing heavily in Round 3 at Bira, sustaining injuries that have been slow to heal. Against the odds, Anucha fought back with a win from his Kawasaki rival in Round 4, thanks in part to a wet track that reduced the worst of the hard physical work that riding a superbike on the twisty Nakhonchaisri track entails. Thitipong regained the upper hand in Round 5, beating Anucha into second place, before the Yamaha rider took a dramatic last corner win at Bira.

The two contenders move into Round 7 with Thitipong on 140 points from four wins and two seconds and Anucha on 110 after two wins, three seconds and a DNF. Next in line is the second Factory Kawasaki of Chaiwichit Nisakul on 84 points. Chaiwichit has shown that he has the speed, but needs to show more consistency to run the top two closer over the full race distance.

YAMAHA THAILAND IS IN THEIR CUSTOMARY FIRST POSITION IN SUPERSTOCK 1000 thanks to six straight wins from the impressive Anon Sangval. Taking those wins has not been easy, as Ben Fortt on the Laiprang YSS Kawasaki is in arguably his best form ever. Despite some bad luck, including a clash with Apidej Boonsri in Round 2, which left him back in fourth place, and a rear shock failure during Qualifying in Round 5 which left him starting from last place, the ‘Pattaya Iceman’ has notched up 109 points. That included his Round 5 ride from the back of the grid to second place in the race of the season so far at Chang International Circuit. Apidej has shown the pace of these two but languishes in fourth place on 52 points. Ahead of Apidej is Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong, who has accumulated 55 points on the factory supported Aprilia RSV4R Factory. Following a crash which destroyed the bike at Buriram in June, he is on an all new bike and now under the direct management of Aprilia Thailand. The team are waiting for race parts from Italy, but he is still very much a podium contender for this round.

YAMAHA THAILAND HAVE ALSO HAD A CLEAN SWEEP IN SUPERSPORT 600, thanks to fast, consistent and often lonely races by Prawat Yannawut. His 150 point haul is 94 clear of TS Yamaha’s Ratchada Nakcharoensri, so the interest is on who will claim the runner up position. The entry of Pasawit Thitiwararak in Round 5 for Thai Honda Racing has spiced up the class. Second place first time out at Chang International Circuit was followed by another strong second in Round 6 at Bira and he is expected to begin pushing the champion elect for the top step this weekend.

The action, together with live interviews and side event coverage will be live Wroommm!! TV

Dramatic win for Anucha at Bira

Declaration of Interest: Barry Russell is Jury President for the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship

Images courtesy of Kaato Ztudios and Yamaha Thailand Racing Team

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Yamaha Thailand’s Anucha Nakcharoensri brought a day of breathtaking motorcycle racing to a dramatic climax at Bira Circuit by snatching a win at the last corner after a race long battle with Kawasaki Thailand’s Thitipong Warakorn.

The scene for Round 6 of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship had been set during Qualifying on Saturday, when Thitipong took pole position with a lap of 1:01.055, just 13 thousandths quicker than Anucha. While there was no doubting Anucha’s Qualifying pace, injuries from a heavy spill at Bira’s Turn 10 in May, his fitness for 17 laps of the Chonburi track’s fast climbs, plunges and curves was uncertain.

20116767_10156068656682137_1082151101260165929_oIt was Thitipong’s menacing black ZX-10RR that led into Turn one from Anucha and the second factory Kawasaki of Chaiwichit Nisakul, who was unable to stay with the two former champions in the early laps. As Chaiwichit settled into a comfortable third place, Anucha tested Thitipong relentlessly, showing a wheel at almost every turn, frequently getting along side in Turn 1 and in the fast downhill Turn 5, at the back of the circuit. Kawasaki’s man soaked up the pressure, keeping ahead, or snapping back quickly whenever the Yamaha got alongside. It was exactly at half distance when Thitipong’s Dunlop tyres began to show their age, sliding a lot more than the Pirelli-shod Yamaha. However, he managed the wayward machine well, leading many of the crowd to believe that he would make it five wins from six starts in 2017, because Anucha would surely begin to suffer fatigue from his injured left shoulder, as we had seen the previous week at Chang International Circuit.

However, there were no signs of Anucha’s challenge fading. His R1 was looking more planted than the Kawasaki in front and his lunges under braking were increasingly determined. With two laps to go Anucha’s belief that he could win was obvious and, as they exited the second chicane on the final lap, he forced his way alongside at Honda Corner and held his line to lead into the last turn to lead across the line to take his second win of the season.

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Ecstatic Anucha gets a ride from Parc Ferme

The contest between the first two was truly world class: on the limit, wheel-to-wheel combat for the entire race without contact or dangerous or desperate moves. For Anucha it was one of his sweetest victories after a clutch of second places, one wet victory, crashes and injuries in the season so far. His delight was obvious and the win was a popular one for followers of the series, who admire his ‘never give up’ spirit. It also narrows the points difference as we move into the second half of the season. Chaiwichit took third place, 18 seconds behind the winner and was one lap clear of the Rookie Class SB-2 racers.

ALTHOUGH SUPERSTOCK 1000 saw Yamaha Thailand’s Anon Sangval take his sixth win from six starts, it was probably the hardest race of his career as well as being the race of the season for the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship. Qualifying had seen 21 thousandths of a second cover Apidek Boonsri, Anon and Ben Fortt, creating expectations for a close race that were surely exceeded.

The race showcased three contrasting styles: the tough, bike torturing determination of Anon, the win-or-crash wildness of Apidej and the smooth, cool-headed confidence of Ben Fortt.

20157844_10156068651882137_3000176707286459534_oApidej got in front of his Anon and Fortt from the start, before Anon muscled his way into the lead. Unlike in previous races, Anon was unable to shake off the two Kawasakis, with Apidej sliding and snarling his way alonside at almost every turn. Anon blocked him every time, while Fortt did his best to stay out of trouble, while maintaining his challenge for the win. With each lap beginning with the three leaders going into Turn 1 side-by-side, no quarter was given by any of the protagonists and every corner offered the possibility of a position change. By half distance Apidej was looking increasingly ragged and Fortt picked his moment to make a clean pass into second place. However, Apidej was not finished and hurled himself back in front of the Laiprang Kawasaki. Fortt passed him a few more times, testing what appeared to be a plan to get to the front.

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Anon treats himself to a well-earned post race burnout

The final lap began with one bike length covering the podium. Anon held his wafer thin advantage despite Fortt’s attacks and the order was finally decided when Apidej crashed at the penultimate corner, which handed third place to Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong on a brand new, road spec Aprilia RSV4 for Aprilia Thailand, some 40 seconds back. In fourth place was the improving Natthapol Wongwutiyan on the BK Racing Kawasaki, ten seconds behind the Aprilia and nine seconds ahead of the rest of the Rookie class ST-2 field.

PRAWAT YANAWUT KEPT ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET IN SUPERSPORT 600, taking pole position in Qualifying and first place in the race. With Ratchada Nakcharoensri absent, the job of giving Yamaha Thailand’s champion-elect a proper work-out fell to Passawit Thitiwararak, who had made an impressive debut in the class the previous weekend in Buriram for Thai Honda Racing Club, after being plucked from the FMSCT Road Racing Championship.

19958932_1414077128688771_6007474908150775527_nPassawit qualified with a lap of 1:04.324, six tenths slower than Prawat and finished six seconds behind after chasing the R6 for the full 17 lap race and recording his personal best lap of 1:03.838 along the way. A fierce battle for Rookie honours was won by Jason Macleod on the former Hans Muehlebach Honda from the X-Speed Racing Yamaha of Thanaphon Limsalakphet after a near coming together at the final chicane.

With the support classes all providing close racing this Round provided, perhaps, a timely reminder that the most exciting two-wheel contests tend to be on twisting, undulating circuits where the skill and bravery required of riders goes beyond the point-to-point technical challenges of the world’s more modern circuits. Of course, today’s safety requirements add an extra layer of challenges, but that is a topic to be tackled another day.