There was plenty to take away from Qualifying for BRIC Superbike Round 3 this afternoon at Chang International Circuit, as the threatened rains continued to stay away.
Superbike Qualifying started with a familiar looking head-to-head between championship leader, Thitipong Warakorn and Anucha Nakcharoensri. They led the other two class contenders, Chaiwichit Nisakul and Jakkrit Swangsawat into the 1’36s, as the 20 minute session got underway. Thitipong went 0.99 clear of the Yamaha Riders’ Club man on his fifth time around and then low-sided his Core Kawasaki at Turn 9 while trying to improve further. Chaiwichit and Jakkrit kept getting faster, though without changing positions and then Anucha pulled out a 1’36.156 on his last flying lap to better the garage-bound Thitipong by 0.130, with Chaiwichit and Jakkrit third and fourth, within just four tenths of Anucha.
Tomorrow’s 12 lap race will be asking Anucha whether he can make the most of his pole position and stay ahead of the hard-charging Thitipong and the fast, consistent Jakkrit. It will also be asking Chaiwichit whether he can stay with his contemporaries for the full race distance.
Anuparb Sarmoon again set a pace in Superstock Qualifying on the Powerspeed Yamaha that seven other top competitors were unable to answer with a 1’35.890 on his third lap. Former ARRC Supersport champion, Chalermpol Polamai, now contesting the series for Yamaha Riders’ Club, got closest, though was 1.327 seconds adrift. Yamaha Devil Eagle’s Prawat Yanwut was two tenths back from Chalermpol to make it an all Yamaha front row.
SPW Performance’s Chanon Chumjai, grabbed the first second row slot with a 1:37.715, just ahead of NU Rangsit Top 1 Dr Bike’s Benjamin Fortt and the second SPW Suzuki of Aekkachai Chiengwong. Apidej Boonsri was seventh from Ussawin Khongtonpaisan and Colin Butler, who was pulled back by fuel problems. Barring any misfortune to the imperious Anuparb – whose time would have also earned him pole position in the Superbike race – we will be watching a battle for second between the five or six riders again tomorrow afternoon.
The four main Supersport 600 protagonists fought hard in their Qualifying session, with Yamaha Hispeed’s Kanatat Jaiman coming out on top with a time of 1’40.821, just 0.125 of a second from both Thai Honda Racing Club’s Sitthisak Aonchaweang and Yamaha KYB’s Peerapong Boonlert, who tied on exactly the same time of 1’40.946.
Behind them a determined Ratchada Nakcharoensri pushed her best ever lap time at Chang International down to 1’41.287 before low-siding off while trying to trim it down further. Behind TS Racing’s star rider a close battle in the SS-2 Rookie class is brewing after just 1.4 seconds separated the rest of the 10-bike grid.
In the all-important Open 400cc class, Vorapong Malahuan was literally chased to pole position by his Yamaha Hispeed team-mate, Jack Hyde, who tag-teamed the championship leader. Vorapong topped the session with a lap of 1’48.914, 0.472 quicker than the 15-year-old Australian. Round 1 winner, Peerapong Luiboonpeng completes the front row on 1’50.109, which was six tenths clear of Mahannop Suruna who leads Row 2 from Aekkarak Tesang and Ratthapong Boonlert. Expect a close race when the class’s 35 bikes leave the grid at around midday tomorrow.
The importance of the Honda Thailand Talent Cup to the development of Asian riders was once again underlined by the performance of Indonesia’s Herjun Atna Firdaus, who won Race 1 this afternoon from Piyawat Patoomyos and Watcharin Tubtim-on. In fact, the only other Thai in the top ten was the highly rated Warit Thongnoppakun, who found himself seventh, amongst two more Indonesians and other riders from The Philippines, Japan and Vietnam. There will be a great deal of national pride at stake when Race 2 gets underway at 10:00 on Sunday.