Despite the national championships already having been decided for 2017, the competition was as fierce as the sun that blazed down on Nakhonchaishri’s Thailand Circuit in today’s Free Practice sessions.
There is still plenty at stake at this weekend’s final round of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championships, even for the champions-elect as teams, riders and sponsors prepare to shuffle the pack ahead of the 2018 season.
THITIPONG WARAKORN HAS THE SUPERBIKE SB-1 championship in the bag for Kawasaki Thailand following his impressive return to the national series in which he has chalked up six wins, four second places and a third from his 11 starts. That was a shock to the previously all-conquering Yamaha Thailand, whose 2015 champion, Anucha Nakcharoensri, ran Thitipong close every time out, but the Dunlop-shod ZX-10RR had just enough of an edge to keep the indomitable Anucha behind on points from the first race of the season. The Kawasaki rider goes into the final round with a 30 point advantage and ready for the formality of collecting FMSCT’s premier class trophy.
However, Thailand Circuit’s R2M championship is still just within Anucha’s reach, as he goes into this round nine points behind his rival. That would mean that he would have to win, with Thitipong finishing below third, to claim the circuit’s own championship: a wild bet indeed, based upon the season so far. Kawasaki’s Chaiwichit Nisakul has got stronger as the season has progressed, and was snapping at the heals of his team mate this afternoon, but is a distant 39 points adrift of Anucha.
THE SUPERSTOCK 1000 TITLE is firmly in the hands of Yamaha Thailand’s Anon Sangval, who has been imperious during 2017, despite the close attentions of Laiprang Kawasaki’s Ben Fortt and, from time-to-time, Apidej Boonsri. Anon has taken nine wins this season, his record spoiled only by a DNF in a wet race Bira and a second to Fortt on another rainy day at Chang International last time out. Fortt is the lap record holder at Thailand Circuit and has been in the form of his life throughout 2017, despite a few mishaps and breakdowns. With Anon out of reach in the championship, Fortt claiming his second win of the season is a good value bet.
SUPERSPORT 600 HAS BEEN DOMINATED by Yamaha Thailand’s Prawat, who has a perfect score of 275 from 11 wins. The only credible competition to Prawat has come from Yamaha TS Racing’s Ratchada Nakcharoensri and, since mid-season, from Thai Honda Racing Club’s Passavit Thithivararak. However, with Passawit missing the early races and Ratchada not entering at Thailand Circuit, where she has chosen to race in the R2M Powergirls WS-1 Professional Class, Prawat has not had a regular challenger. That takes nothing away from the Yamaha Thailand man, who has been fast, consistent and thoroughly professional and deserves his clean sweep.
Of the support classes, R2M Sportbikes 400 promises to be the hardest fought showdown, with 10 points covering the top three. Popular Australian, Jack Hyde goes into the last round with 55 points, five ahead of Kanatat Jaiman, and 10 and 11 points clear of Mahanop and Aekkarak respectively. Kanatat’s two wins from two starts and his domination of the Yamaha R3 Thailand challenge make him favourite to finish the weekend as champion, but the other contenders are clearly intent on spoiling his plans.
The action will be streamed live on wroom.tv and you can follow us on Facebook for links and analysis throughout the event.