Overview: Thai ace Apiwat Wongthananon was made to work hard for his victory in Round 2 of the Asia Production 250cc. However, the Yamaha Racing Thailand rider was made to work hard for his sixth win of the season, having to overcome strong opposition from his Japanese and Indonesian rivals.
The drama in the Asia Production 250cc Race 2 began even before the race start when Galang Hendra Pratama was seen to pit-in at the end of the sighting lap. Luckily for the Yamaha Racing Indonesia rider, he was able to re-enter the track before the pit lane was closed, and managed to return to his spot in the middle of the front row.
Race Start: Galang got off to a great start when he led the group into Turn 1 but Apiwat managed to muscle past.
Lap 1: Galang, Apiwat and Vorapong Malahuan were the early leaders in the race. Gupita Kresna Wardhana of Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing suffered an engine failure and was forced to return to the pit. Ayumu Tanaka lost control and slipped out of the race. The TRICKSTAR Racing rider was able to get back on board, but was left far behind by the group.
Lap 2 and Lap 3: Galang retains his lead position across the finish line. After all, this was the circuit where Galang learnt to race. Imanuel Putra Pratna, Apiwat Wongthananon, Takehiro Yamamoto and Anupab Sarmoon made up the rest of the leading group were in hot pursuit. Yamamoto managed to squeeze his way into the lead, taking Anupab with him. Galang lost his position even as the action hots up when Imanuel sprinted past Anupab while Apiwat also injects himself into the mayhem.
Lap 4: Yamamoto gained a small advantage as he led the group at the end of Lap 4. But Apiwat soon begins to apply pressure on his Japanese rival, eventually taking over the lead for a few corners.
Lap 5: After a strong start, Galang had disappeared from the radar but another Indonesian rider, Imanuel Putra Pratna, stepped up to the plate. Imanuel led Apiwat, Yamamoto, Vorapong and Yusuke Nakamura across the finish line. At Turn 1, Nakamura edged into second place but was unable to retaliate when Apiwat took back the position and made it stick.
Lap 6: Still trying hard, Nakamura broke out of the slip stream and dived for the lead at Turn 1, carrying Yamamoto in his slipstream. At Turn 2, Yamamoto who was racing in a very pro-active manner, pushed past Nakamura. By now, the riders at the front end of the battle had undergone a complete change. Galang Hendra Pratana showed up at the front for a few brief moments but it is now the Japanese riders who are dominant on the Sentul track.
Lap 7: With a mere 0.355s lead, Yamamoto was having a hard time keeping his Yamaha rivals at bay. Lap 7 saw Imanuel and Apiwat taking over the front end.
Lap 8: The battle for P1 was fought out among 12 riders. Yamamoto responded to the Yamaha charge but had a hard time running away from Apiwat and Imanuel.
Lap 9 to 11: The race finally settled into a familiar formation with Yamamoto and Apiwat once again duking it out for the win while Imanuel Putra Pratna and Yusuke Nakamura hovered in the background hoping to take advantage of any opening in either lead rider’s racing line. At the last lap, Apiwat braked hard into the chicane, arguably the hardest part of the course. Yamamoto had no response for that daring move.
Lap 12: After shaking Yamamoto loose, Apiwat sprinted to the finish line in first place with 21’51.097s, only 0.098s ahead of second-placed Yamamoto. In third place, Nakamura outwitted Imanuel Putra Pratna for the final spot on the podium.
Championship Standings: Apiwat is now a full 36 points ahead in the Asia Production 250cc standings. The Yamaha Thailand Racing rider holds 171 points to Yamamoto’s 135 points. Peerapong Loiboonpeng is third overall with 104 points.
Apiwat Wongthananon, Yamaha Thailand Racing, Winner: I am very happy I was able to make a comeback after yesterday’s engine failure. Everything went perfectly to script today and I want to thank everyone for their support.
Takehiro Yamamoto, TRICKSTAR Racing, 2nd place: All throughout the race, Apiwat was braking very hard. He was also shadowing me everywhere. I tried to out-brake him, but at the final lap, I didn’t have enough time to respond.
Yusuke Nakamura, Akeno Speed WJR Racing, 3rd place: My first podium of the season! This had been a tough but satisfactory race for me.