Just a few days after R2M Round 2 at Thailand Circuit, the cream of the country’s motorcycle racers and teams transferred almost 500 kilometres to Chang International Circuit for the second round of the BRIC series. With BRIC and R2M both counting towards the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship, this was Round 4 of the national series for the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes. And, while the two Open 400cc series have yet to be amalgamated, it is the most hotly contested and, arguably, the most important class for the future of Thai motorcycle racing, so is widely regarded as a de-facto national championship. In a gripping day of competition, Powerspeed Racing Team’s Jakkrit Swangswat scored Yamaha’s first Superbike win of the season to add to the manufacturer’s wins in the other three main classes.
BRIC also welcomed Yamaha Thailand’s Chalermpol Polamai to the series. The former ARRC Supersport and All Japan champion added more than a touch of class to proceedings with his entry in the Superstock category for Yamaha Riders’ Club.
With dry and slightly cooler weather and track temperatures at around 36 degrees Centigrade, conditions were near perfect throughout both practice and qualifying days and for race day on Sunday.
SUPERBIKE SB-1 SAW ANOTHER TIGHT QUALIFYING BATTLE between Core Kawasaki Thailand’s Thitipong Warakorn and Yamaha Riders’ Club’s Anucha Nakcharoensri. This time the man in green got the upper hand with a best lap of 1’35.718, edging out his rival by 0.062 of a second. Third place on the grid was taken by the Powerspeed’s Jakkrit Swangsawat, who again looked strong in Buriram. He was just two tenths behind Thitipong’s time and, notably, two tenths faster than Anucha’s Round 1 pole winning time set less than a month earlier. The Core Kawasaki of Chaiwichit Nisakul led Row 2 from BK Motorsports Natthapol Wongwutiyan.
Thitipong got away first, but was ignominiously shoved back to fourth by his main rivals by the end of the first lap. It was Anucha who got through first at Turn 4 and he opened up an advantage of a few bike lengths on Jakkrit, who had a comfortable cushion over Chaiwichit, who had a frustrated looking team-mate climbing all over the back of his ZX10-RR. Behind them SB-1 Pro-Rookies, Or Phitabhutra of Core Motorsport and Chitpong Ruenkaew of UTR Dr Bike Racing led the rest of the field. Thitipong slid up the inside of Chaiwichit on the brakes into Turn 3 on the fifth lap, made the move stick and tried to close the gap on Jakkrit who was looking comfortable during the middle laps.
On lap 6 Anucha’s bike spluttered to a halt with what looked like an electronics problem and his race was run. Jakkrit accepted the lead, while Thitipong sensed the opportunity to close in and go for his fourth win from four starts. He got in front and, though chased by the Powerspeed Yamaha, looked like the winner, starting the final lap some five bike lengths clear.
Just as it looked as though the race was done, a tangle with back markers gave Jakkrit the chance to close the gap and make a pass on the Kawasaki. As Thitipong tried to hold his lead, his front wheel caught the rear of Jakkrit’s bike sending him sprawling into the gravel. Jakkrit stroked his machine home, while Thitipong struggled back onto the track to finish fifth. Chaiwichit completed his job to finish second, followed at a long distance by Or and Chitpong. Behind Thitipong, Wattikorn Sararat was sixth on the road, winning a tight, international battle for SB-2 honours from India’s Sandesh Prasanna Kumar and France’s Thierry Perenon.
ANUPARB SARMOON WAS IN ANOTHER LEAGUE IN SUPERSTOCK qualifying, with only himself to compete against once again. The 25-year-old, who is on loan from Yamaha Thailand to Yamaha Powerspeed Racing, put in a time of 1’35.601, more than a tenth faster than Tingnote’s Superbike pole position time.
The following seven riders put in what were recognisable as good Superstock times, led by Chalermpol Polamai, who recorded 1’37.301 to line up in the middle of the front row and NU Rangsit Dr Bike Top 1’s Benjamin Fortt, who was the fastest Kawasaki rider, on 1’37.619. One man privateer, Colin Butler, rounded out podium contenders, qualifying eighth on 1’38.776.
Anuparb shot off from the start to establish an early lead, which he extended continuously throughout the 12 laps. In the race behind the Yamaha Powerspeed R1, Chalermpol moved straight into second and controlled the gap to the group behind him, which was led by his Yamaha Riders’ Club team-mate, Prawat Yanwut, who was chased by the two SPW Performance Suzukis of Ekkachai Chiengwong and Chanon Chumjai. Ben Fortt was hot on the heels of Chanon, quickly getting past and into fifth.
The order looked established until after half distance, when Ekkachai and Fortt closed up on Prawat to engage him in a fight for third position. At the end of lap nine, Fortt ran wide and out of podium contention, leaving Ekkachai to keep the pressure on Prawat, moving past in Turn 6 on lap 10. Fortt ran off at the final turn again on lap 10, as he struggled with his wayward ZX10-R. Prawat kept the pressure on the SPW Performance Suzuki, but Ekkachai held firm to take a popular third place for the private team behind Chalermpol. Fortt held on to finish fifth behind Prawat and in front of Chanon, Butler and Ussawin, who took another ST-1 Pro-Rookie win for UTR Dr Bike Racing team.
THE THREE NOW FAMILIAR SUPERSPORT 600 SS-1 PROTAGONISTS were joined again in Buriram by TS Superbike’s Ratchada Nakcharoensri. In qualifying Yamaha KYB IRC DID Motul’s Peerapong Boonlert held onto his 100 percent record, this time by just 55 hundredths of a second from Yamaha Hispeed’s Kanatat Jaiman, while Sitthisak Aonchaweang put his Thai Honda Racing Club CBR 600RR on the outside of the front row, half a second slower than Kanatat. Ratchada put in a best lap of 1’43.329 to lead the second row and was around four seconds quicker than the SS-2 Rookie field behind her. Yamaha Devil RCT’s Sittiporn Srimoontri started from the back of the grid following a technical infringement that was detected after qualifying.
Peerapong launched like a rocket from the start, putting clear air between himself and the rest of the field by the time he reached Turn 1. Ratchada also got away well to lead the chasing pack through the first sector. Kanatat slipped past the TS Yamaha mid lap, then Sitthisak forced his way past at the final turn, using plenty of run-off to make his move stick. The pass went unpunished and the first three strung out, lapping in the 1:40s, while Ratchada dropped into the clutches of Sittiporn Srimoontri, who quickly made his way up from last place at the start.
Kanatat did well to match the pace of the leader as the race wore on, but there was nothing he could do to close the gap as Peerapong managed the race from the front. At the finish, the KYB IRC DID Motul Yamaha had an advantage of 8.5 seconds over Kanatat, who was subsequently disqualified for being under the weight limit. That elevated Sitthisak to second, Sittiporn to third and Ratchada to fourth on the adjusted results.
OPEN 400CC DIVISION 1 SHOWCASED the international class of Vorapong Malahuan again, who is relishing the switch he made from Honda to lead the line for Yamaha Hispeed in this ultra-competitive category. He took pole position with a lap of 1’48.899 from his 16-year-old team mate, Jack Hyde, who was 1.273 seconds behind, though six tenths clear of the Yamaha of Chanachai Boonngam. Mahannop Suruna, Ratthapong Boonlert and Aekkarak Tesang completed a Yamaha lock-out of the first two rows, while the PTT Kawasaki of Thanet Sukjaroen was the quickest Kawasaki on 1’53.301. Peerapong Luiboonpeng, who beat Vorapong by the width of a cigarette paper in BRIC Round 1, did not go out in qualifying, so started at the back of the grid.
Vorapong got away at the start and set a pace that nobody else was able to match, leaving a battle raging for second place between Hyde, Ratthapong and Mahannop, while Peerapong sliced his way through the 24 bikes that had started in front of him. At the end, Hyde won the battle for second, finishing 3.2 seconds behind his team mate, with Ratthapong and Mahannop finishing third and fourth within just four tenths of the young Australian. Peerapong came through to finish 1.5 seconds behind Mahannop in fifth.
Round 3 of the BRIC Superbike Championship will take place over 10-12 August. It will also be the fifth round of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship.