Punchana Kulrojchalalai takes pole position at Suzuka. Kagayama finishes 8th in his first ever 600cc race.
Day 2 of the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE(SAC) took place at the infamous Suzuka Circuit. Although sunny skies blessed the riders, strong winds made it a difficult day for the riders. SAC is SUZUKI’s rider development program, using the single-platform SUZUKI GSX-R150, modified by SAC for race use.
Practice session 2 took place in the morning. The riders changed their settings to adapt to the strong tailwind in the two long straights at Suzuka. The riders now beginning to understand the new RCB rear suspension, made changes and started to make faster laps, getting ready for qualifying. #78 Punchana Kulrojchalalai (Thailand) scraped 3 seconds off his time from day 1, and lead the practice with a lap of 2’53.569.
Qualifying took place in the late afternoon, with the wind becoming weaker than the morning practice. Punchana, who lead both Practice 1 and 2, continued to show strength, taking his first Pole Position this season with a lap of 2’53.464. #76 Chepy Armansyah Suryadi (Indonesia) came in 2nd with a lap of 2’54.746, while #32 Arunagiri Prahbu (India) filled the last spot on the front row with a lap of 2’55.236.
SAC General Manager, Yukio Kagayama, gave the SAC riders motiviation by qualifying 10th, and finishing Race 1 in 8th on his first ever 600cc race. This was only his 2nd day to ever ride the SUZUKI GSX-R600. The SAC riders learned how a top rider adapts to new environment, and was impressed how Kagayama finished in the top 10 in the highly competitive, Supersports 600 category.
Two races will take place for SAC on the final day, while Kagayama will race Race 2.
Punchana Kulrojchalalai | #78
“I have raced at Suzuka before, and I checked the Japanese riders to understand the track better. But it is a difficult track as said, and it took some time to find the braking point at the chicane. The gear ratio was off in my first practice, so I changed the sprocket setting today, and adjusted my rear suspension setting, which made my GSX-R150 so much better today. I was able to use the slip stream effectively, and was able to achieve a good lap. We have two races tomorrow. I am starting on pole, but it would be difficult to runaway from the pack, so my strategy is to stay in the pack and wait for the right moment to win the race.”
Shunji Yatsushiro | Rider Coach
“I am happy to see that there were no major incidents during qualifying, and that all riders finished the sessionsafely. Since this is the first time for the SUZUKI GSX-R150 to race at Suzuka, I was expecting a better lap time. Although the aero-dynamics of the Suzuki GSX-R150 is better, it maybe that the effect does not show much on a course like Suzuka, where there are not many tight corners, but where there are more middle to high speed corners. There are two races tomorrow, and I hope to see everyone do well.”