Thitipong Warakorn again grabbed the headlines, as the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship moved to Chang International Circuit for Round 2,and Round 1 of the track’s own PTT BRIC Superbike series. Core Kawasaki Thailand’s defending champion snatched the win from the fingers of Yamaha Rider’s Club’s Anucha Nakcharoensri after an intriguing battle between the litre class’s two leading manufacturers.
While the results show a repeating pattern, there was plenty to entertain in the headline SB-1 class. Qualifying saw Anucha again take a crushing pole position with a time of 1’36.162, more than four tenths clear of Thitipong and his team mate, Chaiwichit Nisakul. Jakkrit Swangsawat led Row 2 from Yamaha Rider’s Club’s Anon Sangval, who has moved up from Superstock for this season.
The 12 lap race segmented neatly into two distinct halves.
Anucha converted his pole position into a lead of around one second by the end of Lap 1, as Chaiwichit, Jakkrit, Anon and Thiingnote got into a four-way fight behind him. Chaiwichit managed to get clear from the other three protagonists and Anon moved through into third from Jakkrit and Thitipong. On Lap 6 the champion from Chachoensao shifted into attack mode, getting ahead of Jakkrit for fourth and making a tough move on Anon at Turn 12 to begin Lap 7 in third place. He quickly closed the gap on Chaiwichit and slid up the inside on the brakes at Turn 3 to take second one lap later. He then put in the fastest lap of the race at 1’36.001 and got onto the tail of Anucha’s R1.
The multi-dimensional battle between the brute power of Dunlop-shod Kawasaki and the sweet-handling, Pirelli-booted Yamaha ensued. Thitipong hit the front for the first time on the tenth lap, powering up the long drag between Turns 1 and 3 to take the lead just before the braking zone and holding it onto the next straight. Anucha tucked into the Kawasaki’s slipstream to stay in contact and pushed hard, determined not to allow any light to poke through between the blue and the green. He drafted past the Kawasaki into Turn 3, just held it into Turn 4, before his rival, not wanting to leave it until the Turn 12 lottery, stole past at Turn 9 and held on to the line. Chaiwichit led the supporting cast to hold third place from Anon and the SB-1 Rookie winner, Jonathan Valero Rubio, who had an impressive outing.
Anuparb’s back-to-front Superstock win
Problems in Qualifying for Powerspeedshop’s Anuparb Sarmoon relegated him to the back of the grid for Superstock ST-1, leaving Devil Eagle Power’s Prawat Yanwut to take pole position with a best lap of 1’37.34. Prawat’s Yamaha was joined on front row by the NU Rangsit Kawasaki of Benjamin Fortt and the SPW Racing Suzuki of Aekkachai Chiengwong. Apidej Boonsri qualified surprisingly far down in sixth, behind Colin Butler and Chanon Chujai.
Prawat got a good launch to lead privateers, Fortt and Aekkachai from Chanon, Butler and Apidej, as Anuparb sliced his way through the 23-bike field, moving up to third as he finished the opening lap. Fortt edged in front of Prawat to take the lead briefly on lap 2, before Anuparb came through to take up what he clearly regards as his rightful place at the front. Attrition among the leaders followed shortly thereafter, with Prawat, Butler and Apidej breaking down in quick succession.
For the rest of the race Anuparb stretched away doing 1’37s, from a delighted Ben Fortt, on 1’38s and Aekkachai on 1’39s, while Chanon held on to fourth place from the ST-1 Rookie winner, UTR Racing Team’s Ussawin Khongtonpaisan.
Peerapong Boonlert steams to Supersport victory
Yamaha Racing Thailand star, Peerapong Boonlert put in a perfect weekend’s work, to take pole position with a lap of 1’40.77 and a lights-to-flag Supersport SS-1 win.
Peerapong was joined on the front row by Thai Honda Racing Club’s Sitthisak Onchawiang and the promising Kanatat Jaiman, who was a convincing winner of the Open 400cc championship in 2017. Ratchada Nakcharoensri led the second row for TS Racing ahead of the Rookie SS-2 field.
Peerapong put the hammer down from the start, to be chased by Sitthisak, Kanatat and Ratchada, before Kanatat broke down and retired. The leader is no stranger to riding 600s, having won the Suzuka 4 Hour in 2017, with Anuparb Sarmoon, so he got into a groove in the mid 1’40s, lapping more than one second a lap quicker than Sitthisak, who was in turn on a pace two seconds faster than Ratchada, who completed the podium.
Peerapong Luiboonpeng smiles for the photo finish from Vorapong
The Open 400cc race showcased the slick skills of international stars, Peerapong Luiboonpeng and Vorapong Malhuan, who had a gripping race long battle in which they lapped up to three seconds faster than the rest of the 35+bike field.
It was seven laps of hard, close, clean racing, which Peerapong stole literally on the line by a margin too small to measure from Vorapong, whose Yamaha R3 fits him like a glove. Chanachai Boonngam took the final place on the podium from Aekarak Tesang and Paitoon Nakthong.
With such a crushing display by the first two riders, the rest of the field have plenty to think about between now and the next round.