Thai rider Apiwat Wongthananon has earned a reputation as a highly aggressive competitor in 2016. Over the first two legs of the season, Apiwat’s hard-charging racing style had often seen the 22-year-old skating dangerously close to sanctioning. However, in the Asia Production 250cc Race 1 at the Suzuka leg (Round 3) of the season, Apiwat proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was able to take as good as he gives when it comes to absorbing pressure from his rivals.
Rival team Trickstar Racing approached their home ground race with full intention of turning the tables on the Thai riders. The Japanese team placed three riders on the Asia Production 250cc grid and throughout the first day of practice, team strategy was visibly in play. Defending champion Takehiro Yamamoto earned the right to park his bike on pole position, alongside team mate Ayumu Tanaka and Indonesia’s Imanuel Putra Pratna on the front row. Apiwat was relegated to the second row with Reynaldo Ratukore and wildcard rider Toshihiro Nakazawa.
The Thai rider quickly made up for lost ground at the start of the race and waded into the front pack that was being dominated by the three Kawasaki Trickstar riders. He patiently bided his time until Yamamoto made a critical mistake at the final chicane and barrelled past the defending champion to win the 8-lap race with a time of 20’08.466s. Trickstar team mates Takehiro Yamamoto and Takashi Yasuda had to be content with second and third positions respectively.
“This is my first win in Suzuka and needless to say I am really happy about my results today. It was obvious that the Trickstar riders were out to edge me out of the podium but I tried to keep my calm and plan my race accordingly,” said Apiwat.
Apiwat’s position at the top of the 250cc rankings is further cemented as he now leads with 111 points. Peerapong Loiboonpeng maintained his second overall position with 85 points while Yamamoto climbed up two notches to third overall with 70 points.