Round 3 of BRIC got underway under cloud cover that was thick enough to keep the sun at bay, but not enough to dampen the asphalt at Chang International Circuit today. The series also features as Round 5 of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship.
Thitipong Warakorn led the way for Core Kawasaki Thailand in Superbike SB-1, putting in a 1’36.135 to gap arch rival Anucha Nakcharoensri by a full eight tenths in Free Practice 1. The other two podium contenders, Chaiwichit Nisakul and Round 2 winner, Jakkrit Swangswat, for Yamaha Powerspeed, were in the 1’37s, which was three seconds clear of Buriram’s home hero, Nattaphol Wongwutiyan and the rest of the 17 bike field that combines the professional SB-1 class with the SB-2 rookies.
The Superstock ST-1 field has developed a lot more depth during 2018, with eight international level riders among the 20 entries for this round. Anuparb Sarmoon again set the pace, clocking 1’36.839 on the Yamaha Powerspeed R1. Chalermpol Polamai got to within 0.617 of Anuparb and led the other contenders, Prawat Yanwut, SPW team-mates, Ekkachai Chiengwong and Chanon Chumjai, then Ben Fortt and Colin Butler. Next up was ST-1 Rookie, Ussawin Khongtonpaisan, for UTR Dr Bike Racing Team, then Apidej Boonsri, who had a quiet afternoon by his standards.
In Supersport SS-1, the usual top two switched places on the timing screens in Free Practice, as Peerapong Boonlert, for Yamaha KYB IRC DID Motul Racing, was forced to give way to Thai Honda Racing Club’s Sitthisak Aonchaweang, who was six tenths faster, with a lap of 1’40.856. Yamaha Hispeed’s Kanatat Jaiman, riding with a shin fracture sustained in a training crash a few weeks ago, was next on 1’41.729, while TS Racing’s Ratchada Nakcharoensri recorded her best ever lap at the Buriram circuit with a 1’42.065. The Triumph Daytona of Pongsupat Sermsaksophon was fifth fastest and the best of the SS-2 rookies that make up the 10 entries for the 600 class.
The Open 400cc class again nudged the limit for the number of bikes allowed on track, with 34 entries. Yamaha Hispeed’s Vorapong Malhuan again set a pace beyond his rivals, putting 1.222 seconds between himself and Ratthapong Boonlert with a time of 1’49.148. Ratthapong headed a tightly packed quartet with Chanachai Boonngam, Jack Hyde and Aekkarak Tesang, while Round 1 winner, Peerapong Luiboonpeng, was sixth with a 1’51.623.
The order for all four of the main classes will be contested hotly tomorrow (Saturday) and riders will be hoping that the rain being predicted for the afternoon will hold off.
Moto3 Honda NSF 250s will be on track for Race 1 of Honda Thailand Challenge, which is the first of three races scheduled for Saturday. Warit Thongnoppakun took pole position by four thousandths of a second from Watcharin Tubtim-on in a close-fought qualifying session. As the series continues its growth it is heartening to see collaboration between Honda’s Asian community, with eight riders joining the young Thai elite from Indonesia, Japan, The Philippines and Vietnam. The other two Saturday races will be the Yamaha Moto Challenge and the Yamaha R3 Thailand Challenge.