Yamaha Thailand’s dynamic duo, Decha Kraisart and Chalerpol Polamai, banked an early home advantage on day one of the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Round 2 at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Early in Free Practice 1 AP Honda’s Ratthapong Wilairot joined his compatriots at the top of the timing screens, but was pushed down during the second half of the 40 minute session as the Manual Tech Kawasakis of Azlan Shah and Ahmad Yudhistira got into their groove, along with Anthony West, who looked as likely as ever to stir things up on the Akeno Speed Racing Yamaha. 2016 champion, Zaqhwan Zaidi, riding with a painful foot injury after his crash two weeks earlier in Johor, looked out of sorts and was almost two seconds off the pace of the front runners. At the chequered flag, it was Chalermpol who took the honours with a late charge that clocked up a lap of 1:40.341, 0.099 of a second ahead of Yudhistira. Decha, Azlan and West, all under 1:41.
With air and track temperatures rising for Free Practice 2, Azlan set the early pace, chased by Decha and Chalermpol. Behind them, Zaqhwan quickly sliced a second off his FP1 time, stopping after six laps to make further adjustments. When he rejoined he took another full second of with his first flying lap and jumped to the top of the board, a full four tenths clear of Azlan. The response from the Thai Yamahas was fast and decisive, with Chalermpol and Decha making the first breaks into the 1:39s. They remained at the top until the end of the session, ahead of Zaqhwan, Azlan and West, with the Yamaha of Yuki Ito and the RAMA Honda of Taiga Hada being the last riders below 1:41.
A more business like atmosphere prevailed in Free Practice 3, as riders fined fine tuned their settings. This time it was Decha who finished top with a lap of 1:39.583, the best of the day and 0.117 seconds faster than Chalermpol. Zaqhwan was next with 1:39.937, ahead of the Kawasakis of Azlan and Yudhistira and the Yamaha of West, who maintained his watch in the top six.
While Yamaha Thailand will be aiming to build on their advantage in tomorrow morning’s qualifying session, they are sure to be tested to their limits by the Manual Tech Kawasakis and the veteran Australian on the canary yellow Yamaha.