Images by ARESSP
Race day for Round 3 of PTT BRIC Superbike was packed with drama and close racing in all classes, with some controversy spilling into Parc Ferme and the weather also playing a part. While the results sheets at the end of the day contained few surprises, the on-track action behind the numbers was compelling.
Chaiwichit Nisakul made a lightening start from the outside of the front row, getting into Turn 1 ahead of Anucha Nakcharoensri, Jakkrit Swanswat and Thitipong Warakorn. Seeing the two leaders stretching away, Thitipong moved past Jakkrit on Lap 3 and began to chip away at the gap. He got onto the back of Anucha on Lap 8, passing him into Turn 3, but the Yamaha rider snapped back at him and the three, frequently spanning the width of the track at the hard braking points, hammered away to decide the podium order. Thitipong got back into second and forced his way past his team mate at the start of Lap 11 as Anucha ran wide and lost almost a second. The championship leader put his head down and got clear, while Anucha relegated Chaiwichit to third on the final lap. Just as it looked as though second place belonged to the man in blue, the Kawasaki rider lunged at the final corner, braking too late to have any chance of making the turn, clipped the front of Anucha’s bike and ran straight on, losing himself another three seconds in the process. The Yamaha rider stayed on and finished second, though was less than impressed with the move and his feelings clear to Chaiwichit in Parc Ferme.
There was drama on the grid, as the three minute board was about to be shown and the heavens opened, drenching the assembled mechanics, grid girls, officials and followers. The bikes were rushed back into pit lane for tyre changes and by the time the exit lights turned to green the rain had ceased.
Despite the soaking surface, Anuparb tore away at the front, leaving Ben Fortt to engage Chalermpol in a fight for second. The Kawasaki rider, got the better of the veteran Yamaha man on Lap 7 and quickly opened up a gap that grew to six seconds at the end, also closing to within five seconds of Anuparb. It was a superb display by Fortt in difficult, changing conditions against his factory supported rivals.
In the race behind, the SPW Suzukis of Chanon Chumjai and Ekkachai Chiengwong ran together with Apidej Boonsri, until he was thrown over the top of the PTT Kawasaki in the early laps. The bike whacked him on the right shoulder as he landed damaging, but not breaking, his collarbone. Further back, Prawat Yanwut and Colin Butler took things steadily, with Butler claiming seventh place at the end, 52 seconds behind Anuparb. ST-1 Rookie, Ussawin Khongthonpaisan, was a further 20 seconds back on the UTR Dr Bike Kawasaki, being caught at the end by Candy Stripe Racing’s ST-2 rider, Mark Harrison, who was 10 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Peerapong Boonlert, following successes at Suzuka and Chennai during the previous two weekends, got away best from the outside of the front row for Yamaha Hispeed to lead from the Honda of Sitthisak Aonchaweang and the Yamahas of Kanatat Jaiman and Ratchada Nakcharoensri, those being the main contenders for 600cc honours.
Kanatat got the better of the Sitthisak on Lap2 and put himself into the wheel tracks of the Hispeed Yamaha, pushing hard on the brakes into Turn 3 on Lap 4, but running wide, as a confident Peerapong ignored the pressure and Sitthisak dropped away. Kanatat continued to press beyond half distance and passed Peerapong on the brakes into Turn 12 at the end of Lap 7, seemingly with enough pace to stay clear of a counter attack. The Hispeed Yamaha man ran out of luck onelaplater as he slowed suddenly, allowing the rest of the field to fly past as he made his way back to the pits. That left Kanatat five seconds clear of Sitthisak, who rode well over the last few laps to halve his deficit and finish second, 16 seconds clear of Ratchada, who in turn had a healthy margin over the SS-2 rookies.
Open 400cc looked like it would be a repeat of Round 1, as Worapong Malahuan and Peerapong Luiboonpeng got away at the front, creating 1.8 seconds worth of daylight back to Ratthapong Boonlert, Aekkarak Tesan, Mahannop Suruna and Jack Hyde on the first lap.
Circulating around one second a lap faster than the rest, the two leaders stretched away and attention focused on the battle for third, in which the young Australian piled pressure on Ratthapong, moving ahead of him on the fifth lap, as Aekkarak and Mahannop dropped back.
Vorapong slowed on the seventh and last lap, as his engine lost power, giving an easier win to Peerapong. Ratthapong, Hyde and Aekkarak all accepted their improved positions as the Hispeed Yamaha spluttered home in fifth.
Honda Thailand Talent Cup
The international importance of the series was again in evidence during Race 2 as riders from five countries fought close battles over 15 laps. Race 1 winner, Herjun Atna Firdaus again featured at the front of the pack along with fellow Indonesians, Hildan Kusuma and Abdul Gofar, as well as Japan’s Tsubasa Hosoya and emerging Thai prodigies, Warit Thongnoppakun, Piyawat Patoomyos and Watcharin Tubtim-on. At the end Hosoya took himself out of contention by running off-track and Warit got across the line first, with Hildhan, Herjun, Piyawat, Gofar and Watcharin all crossing the line within less than one second to complete the first six.