The first race for the Asia Production 250cc class began with chaos and commotion when 21 riders out of the 28-bike grid were penalized for dangerous riding behaviour during the qualifying session.
The 21 riders, including provisional leader Apiwat Wongthananon, flouted explicit rules that forbade slow riding during the qualifying session. All the riders were penalized with 15 seconds added to their fastest time. This resulted in a topsy-turvy Race 1 grid with the top runners pushed to the middle of the grid. Malaysian rider Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin found himself the unexpected pole man in Race 1.
However, Kasma’s advantage was short-lived as Apiwat and his team mates quickly made up for lost ground in the early part of the race. By lap four, Apiwat, Anupab Sarmoon and Yusuke Nakamura successfully challenged Kasma for the lead. The remaining eight laps of the 12-lap race saw a constant change of leaders at the front of the pack.
The Thai riders’ excellence in team strategy emerged at the end of the race. In a move that was reminiscent of the exact same tactic used in 2015, Apiwat led his Yamaha Thailand Racing team mates past Nakamura to score a perfect podium for the team’s full-season entry in the Asia Production 250cc class.
Apiwat won the race with 21’30.906s. Peerapong Loiboonpeng and Anupab Sarmoon were second and third with 21’31.386s and 21’31.895s. Yusuke Nakamura and defending champion Takehiro Yamamoto rounded up the top five. Kasma who started from pole, was only able to secure a seventh place finishing for himself.
“The 15-second penalty did not affect my performance at all. This is a great start with a great team. So far, in just a few short months, they have shown tremendous dedication and commitment towards our common goal – which is to win the title in the team’s first season in this class,” said Apiwat.