Apiwat Wongthananon handed the Yamaha Racing Thailand team their second victory of the year when he pipped Anthony West to the finish line in the SuperSports 600cc Race 1 at the season finale. 23-year-old Apiwat, who was also Asia Production 250cc and BRIC Superbike Champion in 2016, was virtually unstoppable as Round 6 of the Idemitsu FIM Asia Road Racing Championship got underway at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
After topping the timesheets multiple times during the free practice and qualifying sessions, Apiwat put on a solid performance at the front of the SuperSports 600cc group. The upcoming Thai rider coolly absorbed the pressure coming at him from all directions, especially from his Kawasaki rival Thitipong Warokorn.
The Thai riders had put up such a formidable defense at the top end of the grid that the only rider who had been able to penetrate into the top four was Australian Anthony West. The Akeno Speed rider made a serious bid for the win on Lap 17, only to be checked by Apiwat who used his superior speed to race to the finish line with a time of 29’58.173s.
West had to settle for second with 29’58.353s. Former Moto2 rider, Thitipong Warokorn crossed the chequered flag in third place with 29’58.488s.
Team Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing’s Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was the best performer among the five title contenders. He finished fifth behind Chalermpol Polamai.
With the exception of Azlan, Race 1 had been a bad round for the championship leaders. Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi, visibly struggling to find pace the entire weekend, finished 10th and picked up enough points to stay at the top of the standings with 144 points. Taiga Hada finished ninth and has moved up the standings to second overall with 141 points. Azlan’s fifth place moved him up the ladder with 139 points to his name while Yuki Ito crashed out at Turn 1 on Lap 14. The Yamaha Racing rider had dropped to fourth overall with 134 points. Despite finishing seventh, Ahmad Yudhistira had dropped out of the title chase. With 119 points in hand, Yudhistira is a full 25 points behind the championship leader.