Thailand’s Punchana Kulrojchalalai has been crowned SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE Champion following the opening race at the final round of 2017 at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand today.
The young Thai racer arrived at his home race with a healthy 33-point lead aboard his #78 Suzuki GSX-R150 in the popular and highly-competitive single-platform five-round series
He claimed the pole position with a record-breaking lap of 2’13.402, with #17 Tetsuya Fujita (Japan) second, with a lap of 2’14.886, while former SAC rider and making a guest appearance, #18 Patis Chooprathet (Thailand), qualified third with a lap of 2’16.000. Among the other main title contenders for the top podium positions when the series wraps-up tomorrow, #16 April King Mascardo (Philippines) took 4th and #11 Ahmad Saugi Muchtar fifth.
With Kulrojchalalai only needing to finish second or above his main series rivals to win the title, the race started cleanly with Punchana taking the holeshot, although it was not possible for him to run away from the pack. The early stages of the race showed Kulrojchalalai along with Fujita, Mascardo, and Chooprathet in the top group.
By middle of the race, countless lead changes had taken place, not only by the title contenders but with everyone in the pack. On the final lap, Mascardo took the lead trying his very best to make the title decider go down to tomorrow’s finale, but going into the final corner, Chooprathet made an incredible move to take the lead and win the race with Mascardo second and Kulrojchalalai third to secure the 2017 SAC title.
Being one the most cleanliest race this season, the Thai duo finished the race in a good result for the local fans. Chooprathet became the first Thai rider to win at this circuit while Kulrojchalalai became the first Thai rider to win the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE series.
#18 Patis Chooprathet – Race 1 Winner:
“I really wanted to do well here and show everyone my best, but I am still happy becoming the first Thai rider to win at Buriram. Everyone running this season are fast, so winning the race today, and becoming the first Thai rider to win a SAC race at Buriram is an honour. I will do my best to win again tomorrow.”
#78 Punchana Kulrojchalalai – 2017 SAC Champion:
“I have been running well throughout the race week. Although I started from pole, I wasn’t in the best position I wanted at the final corner to settle in for third. I wanted to clinch the Championship title by winning the race, but on the other hand, I did not to fall. Now that I have the series title, tomorrow I should be able to run more freely than today.”
Yukio Kagayama – SAC General Manager:
“Today’s race was a clean and a non-incident race. However, the riders still showed us competitiveness by battling each other and it was a fun race to watch. Furthermore, the riders proved themselves that they have improved. It was an exciting race from a sense that a Thai rider won in their home country. I would also like to congratulate Punchana, who showed speed and steadiness throughout the season to win the series title.
“Tomorrow will be the last race of the season and I would like to thank all of members involved in SAC as well as our sponsors. I hope to see Punchana race like a Champion tomorrow, and would like to see the other riders challenge the Champion.”
Shunji Yatsushiro – SAC Rider Coach:
“The Championship title has been decided without waiting until the final day. Riders were very competitive during the race, and although there were some contact, no one fell, and I now feel much better. I want to congratulate Punchana for winning the title, as well as Patis for the first SAC Thai win in Buriram.”