Somkiat Chantra takes victory in thrilling first Shell Asia Advance Talent Cup race in Buriram

Local rider Somkiat Chantra has won an exhilarating first race in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, ahead of Sasaki and Salim.

The Thai rider was the winner of the inaugural race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, held today at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram (Thailand).

Local hero Chantra, managed to take the victory in a thrilling finish ahead of Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki and Indonesian Salim Gerry. The race was decided on an exhilarating final lap, where nine riders were in with a chance of the win.

The day began with the qualifying session, which took place on a damp track because of the overnight rain. After a few laps on wet tires, riders changed to slicks in the final minutes of the session, with the Malaysian Azman claiming pole, ahead of Atiratphuvapat and Sasaki, who joined him on the front row.

The race, scheduled for 16 laps, had seen Atiratphuvapat take the early lead, as he lead a large pack of the fastest riders from qualifying, including Chantra, who had been fastest in free practice but had only managed to qualify in ninth.

The most active in the group was the young rookie Kazuki Masaki, in a race that had constant lead changes, with riders taking advantage of the ability to slipstream each other on the fast straights of the Chang International Circuit. Due to this, none of the riders could escape at the front of the leading pack, with the top nine riders separated by just one-second for most of the race.

In the final stages Salim launched an attack from the front, setting the fastest lap of the race, over a second quicker than the pole time. Chantra reacted, and on the last lap, he timed it right on the last corner to out-drag Sasaki and Salim to the line, with the first nine riders on the timesheets separated by just 1.7s.

Australia’s sole entrant in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, 14-year-old Lachlan Taylor, one of the youngest riders in the category finished 17th in race one, 62-seconds behind race winner Somkiat Chantra.

The Director of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, Alberto Puig, was pleased with how the first race went: “It was a good race, a great fight between the riders returning from last year, and the new riders, from Indonesia, Japan and Thailand. To have a large group with nine riders contesting for the lead, improving on their lap times constantly, and getting below the pole time during the race is good. We are happy, as the lap times are dropping, and we will see how it goes in the second race tomorrow.”

Somkiat Chantra
Somkiat Chantra takes victory in thrilling first Shell Asia Advance Talent Cup race in Buriram
Akarin Atiratphuvapat takes second victory for Thailand in Shell Asia Advance Talent Cup

Thai rider Akarin Atiratphuvapat rounded up a great weekend for his country, as he won the second race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup.

The weekend culminated in two wins for local riders during the opening round of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram. Yesterday it was Somkiat Chantra who claimed the win, today it was his compatriot Nakarin Atiratphuvapat’s turn.

The race began with the man who took pole position yesterday, Malay Azman, making a break in the early stages. Atiratphuvapat, who had made it clear that he was ready for his first win in the cup, headed the group of riders that began to chase down the leader. Due to the similarities with the Honda NSF250R, it is very difficult to escape the pack in this series, even more so on a circuit with such long straights, such as the Chang International Circuit. Soon, the group had caught the leader, and there were 10 riders battling it out at the front putting on an incredible show of racing with continuous overtaking.

Atiratphuvapat, who yesterday missed out on the podium due to a mistake on the last lap, was behind the winner from yesterday Chantra, and the young Japanese rookie Masaki, who set a new lap record at the circuit.

The key moment occurred on the 13th (of 16) lap, when Chantra fell, taking Norrodin with him. This crash caused a small gap in the leading group to appear, and gave Kunimine a slight lead at the front. Once again, the nature of the series meant that the rider could not keep the gap at the front, and he was hunted down to leave 8 riders battling it out for the race win on the last lap.

Sasaki went on the attack, after setting another new lap record, but today was Atiratphuvapat’s day, as he managed to overtake the Japanese rider two corners from the end to take his first win in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, with Masaki taking third.

After the first two races, Ayumi Sasaki leads the overall standings with 40 points, thanks to two second-places in Buriram. In second place is Atiratphuvapat with 36, and Masaki is in third with 29.

Lachy Taylor retired four laps from the end to finish the opening round on somewhat of a sour note for the young Australian.

The Director of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, Alberto Puig, believes that: “For Thai riders it has been very important to win at home, and they have taken a big step forward. Last year the series was dominated by the Japanese guys, now others are maturing, it is a clear sign that things are changing in Asia. Riders from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are increasing their levels. Step by step we are getting what we wanted.”

The second round of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup takes place next weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, as part of the opening round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship.

Akarin Atiratphuvapat
Akarin Atiratphuvapat takes second victory for Thailand in Shell Asia Advance Talent Cup
Shell Advance Asia Talen Cup Championship Standings after Thailand Round One and Two
  1. Ayumu Sasaki 20-20 / 40
  2. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat 11-25 / 36
  3. Kazuki Masaki 13-16 / 29
  4. Somkiat Chantra 25-0 / 25
  5. Gerry Salim 16-9 / 25
  6. Takuma Kunimine 9-11 / 20
  7. Helmi Azman 8-10 / 18
  8. Shafiq Rasol 7-9 / 15
  9. Andi Izdihar 0-13 / 13
  10. Adam Norrodin 10-1 / 12
  11. Kite Fuse 5-6 / 11
  12. Yuta Date 4-5 / 9
  13. Fakhrusy Rostam 0-7 / 7
  14. Ai Ogura 6-0 / 6
  15. Azroy Anuar 2-4 / 6
  16. Yuanhang Chen 3-3 / 6
  17. Ryusei Yamanaka 0-1 / 1
  18. Sittipon Srimoontree 1-0 / 1