ASIA, THAILAND, NAKHON CHAI SI. Gloomy Saturday morning at the renowned Thailand Circuit Motorsport Complex turned to be the main threat for riders on track. The uncertain weather created anxiety within riders as they braved through the toughest track developed for the championship.
In addition to the heavy overnight downpour, the rutted off-road section increases the challenges with hard and uneven dirt, creating a fierce battle even for the best riders on track.
Free Practice Report
Amidst the opening of the track for practice, riders and team mechanics seemed to faced complications with a slight delay in the entrance to the track. It was only five minutes after the announcement only the first rider appeared.
United Kingdom’s Lewis Cornish #8 took the lead with full confidence in conquering the complicated circuit, showing excellent skills and performance that derives from his over ten-year experience on both Motocross and SuperMoto.
Soon after his entrance, the second lap witnessed a boisterous brawl between the #8 and Dutchman Marcel Van Drunen #17. The duo put on a stunning performance despite being a free practice session. Neither made way or leaving any gap on the track, posing a brutal exchange in hope to utilise the knowledge as an advantage for the Qualifying round.
“The off-road’s condition was different from yesterday. It was difficult, but hopefully, the dirt will dry up before the Qualifying,” said Lewis.
Lewis topped the free practice with 1:21.767, followed by Marcel with 1:22.456.
Another team battle was witnessed between the Malaysian top duo, 2016 champion Muhd Habibullah #1 and 2013 champion Khairy Zakaria #32. The #32 kept his eyes locked to Habibullah all the time but failed to maintain his pace. Khairy’s disappointment upon his return to the paddock showed a confident look that he will defeat the 2016 champion in Qualifying.
“I am keeping a few tricks up my sleeve for Qualifying, and I will show the crowd and my rivals on my potential on track. My bike is in an optimum form, and hopefully, luck will lead me to the pole position later,” said Khairy.
Khairy clocked the free practice at 1:27.501, over a second behind Habibullah that clocked at 1:25.274.
Thailand’s ace, Trakarn Thangthong’s (#5) performance on track was a stunning show with stupendous power slides and stable jumps across the whoops. Without taking regard of other riders during the practice session, Trakarn surfed through the track elegantly, crossing lappers including Russia’s Artem Teslenko #97, Taiwan’s Lin Chin Pei #720 and Lee Wei #40, China’s Sun Tong #27 and Hong Kong’s Tsang Wai Kei #102.
“I am sure that I am in my best condition after the practice round today. Coming in third in the practice round, I believe that I can perform and bring the first round trophy for the country,” said Trakarn.
Trakarn finished the free practice clocking 1:23.079.
Qualifying Race Report
Fighting for one of the six entry to SuperChrono had the riders put on the best opening show for the 2017 FIM Asia SuperMoto Championship.
The Qualifying round that began at 2:32:30 PM the Thailand Circuit Motorsport Complex witnessed a change in the riders’ crave for the starting grid positioning tomorrow.
The scorching sun returned briefly before the start of qualifying to dry the off-road section, creating a relatively easier track for the riders.
While the Qualifying round does not require the riders to compete by the grid, Japan’s Takashi Sasaki #101 kicked-off the round with a tremendous performance on the track, taking advantage of the empty circuit in his attempt to secure the top spot for the race tomorrow.
Shortly after, top riders Lewis Cornish, Trakarn Thangthong, Muhd Habibullah, Khairy Zakaria, Marcel Van Drunen, and wild card rider, Thailand’s Natthapat Suksan Watthana entered the track and stole the show.
The battle between Lewis and Marcel was apparent that their rivalry was put on track even after the Free Practice. However, it was Lewis’ experience that aced the circuit as he blocked Marcel from leading the race. The blockage poses a threat for Marcel who ended up two seconds behind Lewis, which resulted in another graveyard battle with former champion Muhd Habibullah.
With Lewis securing a spot for SuperChrono, Marcel and Muhd Habibullah battled out for the second and third spot.
While the tracks’ condition has improved, the hairpin turn immediately after a table top jump seemed to be the toughest challenged even for the top riders.
Malaysia’s Muhd Habibullah and fans’ favourite, Thailand’s Trakarn Thangthong, were troubled with almost slipping off-track during the tight turn, especially when the lappers were met at the corner.
Both individuals with motocross experience did not put their best foot forward for the dirt section while trying to redeem their mistake with a full throttle on straight roads.
Thailand’s wild card rider Natthapat Suksa Watthana shocked the audience with a favourable performance, landing him the final entry to SuperChrono. The Thailand rider faced multiple complicated mechanical issues during the free practice yesterday. With all eyes on the Thai riders, the host country is likely to secure at least a spot on the podium tomorrow.
However, it was a struggle for Indonesia’s Farhan Hendro #162 when a mechanical issue took a toll on the bike, showing him the way out of the track earlier than expected. Despite the downturn, Farhan still secured the tenth grid spot for Moto 1 tomorrow.
Another eye opening rider, Philippines’ Kenneth San Andres wowed the spectators and rivals with an overwhelming performance. Steady riding across the circuit oppose his humble performance during Free Practice.
SuperChrono Race Report
Circuits were cleared from all riders other than the top six qualifiers, making space for full speed across the track.
Six riders – Lewis Cornish, Muhd Habibullah, Marcel Van Drunen, Trakarn Thangthong, Khairi Zakaria and Natthapat Suksan Watthana, competes for the pole position for Moto 1.
It was clear that Lewis overpowered the other riders and stole the pole position, clocking with the best time of 1:15.297. Habibullah, on the other hand, tried to fight with speed but his lack of experience and confidence in long tracks landed him second for the grid tomorrow.
Malaysia’s Khairy Zakaria’s performance during SuperChrono was slightly disappointing when he held back at all three off-road sections, landing him the fifth grid position.
The Thai duos Trakarn Thangthong and Natthapat Suksan Watthana puts on a stable race without much risk to secure the fourth and sixth grid positioning respectively.
Moto 1 will commence on Sunday, 3 September 2017, from 12:00PM (+7:00 GMT).
FIM Asia SuperMoto Championship is promoted by Asia Supersports Group, a consortium of three companies namely Bikenation Motorsports Sdn Bhd, Trade My Superbike and E-Plus Global Sdn Bhd; sanctioned by FIM Asia and FMSCT; and supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia), Malay Mail, Kelab Blogger Ben Ashaari and TX Sports.
Qualifying Race Result:
|2||17||Marcel Van Drunen||NED||1:17.305|
|6||28||Natthapat Suksan Watthana||THA||1:20.183|
|9||12||Kenneth San Andres||PHI||1:21.539|
|14||720||Lin Chin Pei||TPE||1:26.981|
|17||102||Tsang Wai Kei||HKG||1:42.129|
SuperChrono Race Results:
|3||17||Marcel Van Drunen||NED||1:16.737|
|6||28||Natthapat Suksan Watthana||THA||1:19.952|