Home riders usually have the advantage, and this statement proved true Sunday during World Supersport’s debut in Thailand. Thai’s Ratthapark Wilairot was the crowd favorite at Chang International Circuit, and he capitalized on the roar from fans to take his debut World Supersport win.
The 26-year-old, who spent six years in Moto2/250cc Grand Prix before joining World Supersport last season, overcame many challenges at Chang to earn his second-career podium finish (the other was second at last year’s season finale in Qatar). The CORE Motorsport Thailand Honda pilot started from seventh on the grid, and battled his way up to second on lap six of 17.
From there, he began chasing race-leader, MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Jules Cluzel. But on lap 13, Cluzel – the winner at the season opener in Phillip Island – was forced to retire with technical issues on his F3, giving the lead and win to Wilairot.
The Honda CBR600RR pilot would be joined on the Chang World Supersport podium by three-time WS Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and the only American in World Supersport, PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres).
The win was not only special for Wilairot, but also for Honda; it was the Japanese manufacturer’s 100th victory in World Supersport.
Speaking after the race, Wilairot says “Today is an important day for Honda as this was their 100th win in the Supersport World Championship. I am happy for this win because we worked very hard from the first day. Yesterday we had a limit to fight for the podium, not the win.
“I realized I would have to keep my pace and go fast from the start. I knew I had good pace for the race, better than in warm-up, because we tried a few changes in the morning. I knew then I could be on the podium and on the top. Today we showed that we could be on the top all the time. After Jules Cluzel’s machine stopped today became incredible for me. Thank you to Core” Motorsport Thailand and Honda.
“It was incredible to win in front of my home fans and it was an impressive feeling. I cannot remember anything like today because it has been a long time to wait for this win. The first time for a Thai in the World Championship and my first win, so it was important – incredible for me. The team has been working very professional and we have to say thank you to the Core” Motorsport Thailand team which has chosen all the important people in the team, who all work very professionally.”
When the race began, Sofuoglu took the holeshot, but on lap five Cluzel, Pata Honda’s Smith, Jacobsen and Wilairot closed in. Jacobsen battled to third by the end of lap two, and Cluzel would take the lead on lap three.
As these top-five battled, Cluzel’s teammate Lorenzo Zanetti crashed out on turn five of lap eight while running in eighth. Smith also crashed a lap later.
Cluzel rode smoothly, and had a clear advantage. Wilairot was charging through the field, and eventually passed Jacobsen and Sofuoglu. He chased Cluzel down, but didn’t have much to worry about once Cluzel was forced to retire with bike issues.
Wilairot would take the win 1.828 seconds ahead of Sofuoglu. Jacobsen tried all he could to earn second, but would have to settle for third after a photo finish.
Taking fourth was the Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres), who crossed the line alone 8.664 seconds later. He finished ahead of Ratthapark’s brother, Ratthapong Wilairot aboard the A.P. Honda Racing Thailand CBR600RR.
Seventh went to Sofuoglu’s teammate Marco Faccani, and eighth to former AMA SuperBike rider Martin Cardenas on the CIA Landlords Insurance Honda. Cardenas became the first Colombian rider in history to earn points in World Supersport.
Rounding out the top 10 were Race Department ATK25 MV Agusta’s Alex Baldolini and Cardenas’ teammate Gino Rea.
With his win in Thailand, and a fifth-place finish in Australia, Wilairot has the World Supersport Championship lead with 36 points, six ahead of Sofuoglu. In third, 11 back, is Cluzel.
The World Supersport series now breaks for three weeks before heading to Aragon in Spain April 10-12.
|1||Ratthapark Wilairot||27m57.523s||THA||HONDA||CORE Motorsport Thailand|
|2||Kenan Sofuoglu||1.828||TUR||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|3||Patrick Jacobsen||1.860||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|4||Lucas Mahias||8.664||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|5||Ratthapong Wilairot||12.110||HONDA||A.P. Honda Racing Thailand|
|6||Roberto Rolfo||13.599||ITA||HONDA||Team Lorini|
|7||Marco Faccani||14.025||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|8||Martin Cardenas||14.857||COL||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|9||Alex Baldolini||21.690||ITA||MV AGUSTA||Race Department ATK25|
|10||Gino Rea||30.238||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|11||Decha Kraisart||30.639||YAMAHA||Yamaha Thailand Racing Team|
|12||Kevin Wahr||36.167||GER||HONDA||SMS Racing|
|13||Christian Gamarino||36.337||ITA||KAWASAKI||Team GO ELEVEN|
|14||Glenn Scott||36.670||HONDA||AARK Racing|
|15||Dominic Schmitter||37.587||SUI||KAWASAKI||Team GO ELEVEN|
|16||Thitipong Warokorn||38.746||HONDA||A.P. Honda Racing Thailand|
|17||Jules Cluzel||DNF||FRA||MV AGUSTA||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|18||Kyle Smith||DNF||GBR||HONDA||Pata Honda|
|19||Lorenzo Zanetti||DNF||ITA||MV AGUSTA||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|20||Kieran Clarke||DNF||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|21||Riccardo Russo||DNF||ITA||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|22||Chalermpol Polamai||DNF||YAMAHA||Yamaha Thailand Racing Team|
|23||Fabio Menghi||DNF||ITA||YAMAHA||VFT Racing|
|1||Ratthapark Wilairot||36 pts||THA||HONDA||CORE Motorsport Thailand|
|2||Kenan Sofuoglu||30 pts||TUR||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|3||Jules Cluzel||25 pts||FRA||MV AGUSTA||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|4||Gino Rea||22 pts||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|5||Patrick Jacobsen||22 pts||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|6||Lorenzo Zanetti||20 pts||ITA||MV AGUSTA||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|7||Roberto Rolfo||18 pts||ITA||HONDA||Team Lorini|
|8||Alex Baldolini||16 pts||ITA||MV AGUSTA||Race Department ATK25|
|9||Kyle Smith||13 pts||GBR||HONDA||Pata Honda|
|10||Marco Faccani||13 pts||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|11||Lucas Mahias||13 pts||KAWASAKI||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|12||Ratthapong Wilairot||11 pts||HONDA||A.P. Honda Racing Thailand|
|13||Christian Gamarino||8 pts||ITA||KAWASAKI||Team GO ELEVEN|
|14||Martin Cardenas||8 pts||COL||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|15||Dominic Schmitter||8 pts||SUI||KAWASAKI||Team GO ELEVEN|
|16||Decha Kraisart||5 pts||YAMAHA||Yamaha Thailand Racing Team|
|17||Glenn Scott||4 pts||HONDA||AARK Racing|
|18||Kevin Wahr||4 pts||GER||HONDA||SMS Racing|
|19||Aidan Wagner||3 pts||AUS||YAMAHA||Oz Wildcard Racing|
|20||Fabio Menghi||1 pts||ITA||YAMAHA||VFT Racing|
|21||Alex Phillis||0 pts||HONDA||Team Lorini|
|22||Thitipong Warokorn||0 pts||HONDA||A.P. Honda Racing Thailand|
|23||Marcos Ramirez||0 pts||ESP||KAWASAKI||CATBIKE/exit|
|24||Kieran Clarke||0 pts||HONDA||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|