The home hero emerges on top as Nishimura escapes with a podium in red-flagged Race 2
Tatchakorn Buasri got a taste of home glory as his took victory in a dramatic Race 2 in Thailand, with the race red-flagged and the Thai rider in the perfect position at the perfect time after fighting in the front group throughout from pole. Points leader Sho Nishimura took second despite a crash as the race result was counted back to the last time over the line, escaping a disaster for his title hopes, with Race 1 winner Afridza Munandar completing the podium.
Buasri got a barnstormer of a start from pole, taking off into clean air as Adenanta Putra gunned it behind him and was able to close in for an attack at Turn 3. The Thai rider hit back soon though and Takuma Matsuyama closed in on the duo in the lead as the long freight train off the line remained incredibly close behind them.
With everyone having gained a little more experience of Chang International Circuit in Race 1, it was closer on Sunday as that huge group of riders remained tightly packed together. Two or three abreast at times, the squabble saw the majority of the field fighting it out in the initial stages. The lilkes of Buasri, Matsuyama, Putra, Munandar, Warit Thongnoppakun, Nishimura, Idil Mahadi and Piyawat Patoomyos were just hundredths apart and the fight for the lead stretched from first place back into the distance.
As the laps ticked down, however, it was a 12-rider train that emerged at the front and was able to make a bit of a break for it, with the racing and jostling for position keeping the same frantic pace. With seven laps to go, a crash for Syarifuddin Azman saw the Malaysian fall out of contention and the group became 11, but the battle was headed for an as-yet unknown dramatic crescendo.
With three laps to go, Abdul Mutaqim suffered a problem and dropped back from the group, making it a ten rider train settling in for the final fight. But then drama suddenly struck as Championship leader Nishumura slid out, the crash seeming like a disaster for the rider who won the first three races of the season. The drama, however, was far from over...
Lightning struck twice in as many minutes in the front group as a crash between Firdaus and Mahadi took them out of the mix, the incident bringing the Red Flag out soon after. That meant the result was counted back to the last time over the line and it was home hero Buasri who'd been leading the pack then; delight for the Thai rider after missing out on a podium in Race 1. It was a stroke of luck for Nishimura just behind in second as the Japanese rider, by virtue of having been able to remount after his crash, gets classified second - the position he was in over the line before the incident.
Race 1 winner Munandar completed the podium for a top weekend in Thailand, with Putra in fourth and Matsuyama locking out the top five as he loses some ground in the title fight. Thongnoppakun took sixth on home turf, ahead of Shoki Igarashi and Patoomyos. Mutaqim takes P9, mitigating the issue he suffered after the group crossed the line for the final time.
Australian Luke Power won the battle to complete the top ten and pipped compatriot Jacob Roulstone, with Ryosuke Bando in P12, ahead of countryman Rei Wakamatsu. The final finisher was Kadir Erbay, after Hildhan Kusuma and Harrison Voight tangled at the final corner earlier in the race and failed to finish.
Mahadi was taken to hospital for further and final check ups.
That's it from Buriram and another top weekend in Thailand, with Nishimura retaining his advantage in the standings as we head for Round 3. That's at Sepang International Circuit as the Cup race alongside Malaysian Superbike from the 14th to 16th July, when everything could change again...so don't miss it!