Superbike scene set for 2018 in opening round at Thailand Circuit

Image by Sleepy Nokkie

As entry lists were confirmed and the first races run for last week’s opening round of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship at Thailand Circuit, some clear indicators emerged for how the 2018 season could play out.

The most significant changes were evident in the Blue Corner. Yamaha Rider’s Club Racing Team is directly contesting only the Superbike class this season, with Anucha Nakcharoensri and last year’s Superstock champion, Anon Sangval. However, Yamaha Thailand is extending support to satellite and customer teams in Superstock 1000, Supersport 600, PowerGirls and Open 400cc categories.

Prawat on the Yamaha Devil Eagle Power Oil R1

In Superstock support extends to signing Yamaha Racing Team’s Anuparb Sarmoon to Powerspeed Racing, which switches from running Hondas and Prawat Yanwut to Devil Eagle Power Oil. Both riders are expected to join the Asia Road Racing Championship’s new Superbike class next year, so are building experience on 1000cc machines as well as being tasked with maintaining Yamaha’s dominance of Thailand’s Superstock class.

In Supersport, Peerapong Boonlert and Kanatat Jaiman join Yamaha KYB IRC DID Motul and Yamaha Hispeed Liquimoly, where their job is to fight back against the challenge of Thai Honda Racing Club, which is fielding the experienced Sitthisak Onchaweang.

The Green Corner has been enlivened with a dash of orange, as Core come in as title sponsor for Core Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team, which continues in the Superbike class with reigning champion, Thitipong Warakorn and Chaiwichit Nisakul. The manufacturer is well represented in Superstock by strong customer teams running Benjamin Fortt, Apidej Boonsri, Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong and Ussawin Khongtonpaisan. There are no green machines in Supersport 600.

With Powerspeed’s move to Yamaha, Honda is only effectively contesting the Supersport 600 championship.

ON TRACK, we saw a repeating pattern at the front of the Superbike class, with Anucha Nakcharoensri taking pole position and leading the early laps before being passed by Thitipong Warakorn, as the more linear wearing characteristics of Dunlop’s hard compound slicks allowed the Kawasaki man to pace himself to victory ahead of the Pirelli-shod Yamaha. The rest of the field had no answer to these two, leaving Chaiwichit eventually to overcome Powerspeed’s Suhathai Chaemsap for third, with Anon in a  distant fifth place. All three chasing riders need to make significant improvements to get into the game. Behind them, Or Pithabut overcame fellow pro-class newcomers, Chitpong Ruankaew and Natthapol Wongwutiyan to take first honours in the SB-1 Rookie battle.

ANUPARB RETURNED TO SUPERSTOCK 1000 and reminded the rest of the field why he won the championship in 2016, dominating Qualifying and winning the race from lights to flag by 21.6 seconds from Prawat, who has stepped up to the litre class after taking last season’s Supersport 600 title. Apidej had showed a smooth pace until an error at mid distance saw him crash out, while Ben Fortt struggled with a sticking front brake, but managed to bring his Kawasaki home in third. While Anuparb already looks untouchable for 2018, the battle behind should heat up as Prawat gets to grips with the new machine and asuming Apidej can achieve more consistency and Fortt can stay clear of technical problems.

PEERAPONG GOT CLEAR of a battle between Kanatat and Sitthisak to take a classy Supersport 600 win. After a pitched battle over the 15 lap race distance, the combative Kanatat forced his way into second place ahead of his Honda rival. Expect more close racing from these three as the season progresses.

Candy Stripe Moto’s Waraporn Wiriyahyuttamar

IN POWERGIRLS WS-1, Ratchada Nakcharoensri cleared off to an expected win ahead of an intriguing battle between the Kawasakis of Sukanya Panlom, Peerapat Chokdumrongsuk and Waraporn Wiriyahyuttamar, who eventually finished in that order.

R2M 400 PROFESSIONAL saw the welcome return of Vorapong Malahuan, who has switched from Honda to Yamaha, joining Hispeed Racing. He notched up his first win against stiff competition from Ratthapong Boonlert and Sitthisak, who is on double duty, contesting the 400cc as well as 600cc classes With the rapid young Australian, Jack Hyde, also lining up for Yamaha Hispeed and a host of other riders fast enough to take on the established stars, this class will continue to provide close fought entertainment for another season.

The next round of the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship will be at Chang International Circuit on 15-17 June, so stay tuned to for updates and views as the key contenders prepare to resume battle.

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