THAI-JAPANESE BATTLE IN 250cc

The Asia Production 250cc Race 1 for Round 2 of the 2016 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship was a battle between two countries as the Japanese and Thai riders set aside their brand identities to fight for honours at the Chang International Circuit.

After topping the timesheets throughout the first day of free practice, Yamaha Thailand Racing Team’s Apiwat Wongthananon lost the pole position to team mate Peerapong Loiboonpeng. At the same time, Trickstar Racing’s Ayumu Tanaka managed to snare a spot on the front row and effectively set the stage for the 10-lap showdown that was to come.

As the lights went off for the start of the race, Apiwat leapt into the front but was unable to break free of the chasing group. A nine-bike front group leant plenty of racing excitement as compatriots Tanaka, Takehiro Yamamoto and Yusuke Nakamura banded together to challenge the might of the Yamaha Thailand trio. The Kawasaki bikes had the better top speed, but the Yamahas were superior at the corners. The lead swapping continued right up to the last lap with neither group willing to back down. Yamamoto managed to sneak into the lead at the final lap but crashed out with Anupab Sarmoon right at the critical moment.

The crash resulted in the expected all-Thai podium. Apiwat and Peerapong secured a 1-2 finish for team Yamaha Thailand Racing with 19’33.867s and 19’34.484s respectively. AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Somkiat Chantra broke up the Yamaha domination and climbed onto the third step of the podium with 19’34.732s.

Apiwat’s hattrick secured his position at the top of the rider standings with the maximum 75 points. Peerapong Loiboonpeng, who also netted three consecutive second-place finishes, holds 60 points in second overall.