Thai riders up the pace as Mahias smashes World Supersport lap record for pole position

Images by kind permission of ARESSP

Lucas Mahias tightened an already firm grip on World Supersport Round 2 by smashing Kenan Sofuoglu’s three year old lap record to take pole position at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, this afternoon.

The reigning world champion led a French one-two, as Jules Cluzel also dipped below the old record to take second place on tomorrow’s starting grid. Behind them, Thailand’s wild card riders provided plenty of entertainment for what was a surprisingly large Saturday crowd.

Based upon combined free practice times, Thitipong Warakorn on the Core Racing Kawasaki was the only wild card to qualify for Superpole 2 by ranking 10th. That meant that Yamaha Thailand’s pairing of Ratthapong Wilairot and Decha Kraisart, together with Sofuloglu’s replacement rider, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, were left to fight it out with the series regulars in Superpole 1 for the two available passes through to Superpole 2, which would decide the first 12 places on tomorrow’s starting grid. After finishing 11th and 12th on combined Free Practice results, Azlan and Ratthapong had gone well in the untimed third free practice session and were in a good position to go through.

Ratthapong put in a lap of 1:38.249 early in Superpole 1 and to put some daylight between himself and the rest. Azlan Shah started brightly, but then pulled into the pits and was unable to progress. Kyle Smith quickly got into the second spot, staying ahead of Decha Kraisart, who, like his team mate, put in his best time of the weekend.

In Superpole 2, Lucas Mahias went straight to the top with a 1:37.264. Team mate, Caricasulo got within half a second and Thitipong pushed hard against the 1:38 barrier as he looked for a front row start. Just before the halfway point, the world champion broke the circuit qualifying record by almost half a second with a 1:36.878 and Randy Krummenacher jumped into second before joining the rest in pit lane for a change of tyres.

Out on fresh rubber Mahias pushed harder, improving his own new record by another six hundredths with a lap of 1:36.738. Just before the chequered flag, Jules Cluzel reminded everyone how good he is at the Thai circuit by also breaking Sofuoglu’s 2015 record with a 1:36.967. Caricasulo completes the front row, half a second behind Mahias, while Sandro Cortese came through late in the session to lead the second row from Krummenacher and West.

Ratthapong Wilairot managed a 1:38.042 to nudge Thitipong into the middle of row 3 ahead of Hiroki Okubo. Full results are on this link.

The World Supersport race is scheduled for 14:30 local time and is expected to pack the main grandstand with Thai fans cheering on their national heroes.

WORLD SUPERBIKE RACE 1 saw Jonathan Rea take his sixth win from seven starts at Chang International, though the Northern Irishman was chased hard in the early stages by Kawasaki stable mate, Tom Sykes, then Leon Camier on the Red Bull Honda and finally by the impressive Xavi Fores on the Barni Racing Ducati.

Fores started well , getting through to second by half distance and keeping Rea on his toes to maintain a gap that was around one second for much of the race. Chaz Davies made his way through from Row 3 to take third place from Camier late in the race. Five seconds further back, Alex Lowes came through to fifth from Sykes and his own team mate, Michael van der Mark.Marco Melandri struggled throughout the race and came in seventh from Eugene Laverty on the Milwaukee Aprilia and Jordi Torres who fell back from the leading group before recovering to complete the top ten.

Full results are on this link.

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