After a tricky start to his second season in Moto3, Thailand’s GP flag bearer, ‘Chip’ Nakarin Atiratphuvapat, banked his first world championship points of 2018, with a solid 14th place finish at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montemelo, Spain.
The complete resurfacing of the circuit since MotoGP’s last visit, threw previous settings and lap time comparisons out of the window, leaving teams to sort out their machines from base settings. Nakarin, despite his best efforts in free practice and qualifying, was around two seconds a lap adrift of the front-runners, placing him 29th on the grid.
However, some smart work by Honda Team Asia and some late adjustments resulted in the 22-year-old lapping half a second quicker in warm-up on Sunday and declaring himself much happier. With 28 bikes and 21 laps of the 4.6 kilometer track ahead of him, Nakarin got to work, steadily picking off his rivals and getting clear of them, so he was not inhibited by having to defend his position. In the end he came through to 14th, almost two seconds ahead of Livio Loi and 26.6 seconds behind race winner, Enea Bastianini, his closest margin of the season so far.
“I found some good feeling and was able to make a good race and score points,” said the Khon Kaen rider from the Honda Team Asia training camp in Andorra. “I have more confidence now and look forward to the next round at Assen.”
Nakarin will indeed be relishing his second trip to Assen, which is where he began to grab the GP paddock’s attention last year after qualifying fourth in wet conditions. The race was run on a dry track and, in a close battle, he finished 18th, just 16 seconds behind the winner. The Dutch circuit’s notoriously variable weather could well work in his favour when he arrives there in just over one week from now.