News & Event
Punchana Kulrojchalalai crowned SAC 2017 Champion
December 2, 2017
The fate of the Championship title has been decided today, as #78 Punchana Kulrojchalalai (Thailand) clinched the title in Race 1 in the final round of the 2017 SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE (SAC) season.
Kulrojchalalai, came into the race weekend, held at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand with a big advantage of 33 points. The circuit, being in his home country, was also a good factor for him, as it is obvious that this is one circuit he understood thoroughly in the season. In addition, he is the only rider in SAC that raced the Suzuki GSX-R150 in his home Championship. He proved that his understanding of the track and the bike was genuine one, by taking the pole position with a record breaking lap of 2’13.402. #17 Tetsuya Fujita (Japan) qualified 2nd with a lap of 2’14.886, while #18 Patis Chooprathet (Thailand) qualified 3rd with a lap of 2’16.000. In other title contenders, #16 April King Mascardo (Philippines) qualified 4th, and #11 Ahmad Saugi Muchtar qualified 5th, making all four title contenders qualifying in the top 5 grids.
With Kulrojchalalai only needing to finish 2nd or above to win the title, the race started cleanly with Punchana taking the holeshot. Although Kulrojchalalai took the pole with a big gap with the rest of the field, it was not possible for him to runaway from the pack. The early stages of the race showed Kulrojchalalai along with Fujita, Mascardo, and Patis in the top group. However, the whole field was right behind them.
By middle of the race, countless lead changes took place, not only by the title contenders but with everyone moving up and down the pack. In the final lap, Mascardo took the lead trying his very best to make the title decider to tomorrow. Going into the final corner, Mascardo was still in the lead, but Patis made a brilliant move to take the lead and win the race. Mascardo came in 2nd, and Kulrojchalalai came in 3rd 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. Patis became the first Thai rider to win at this circuit, while Kulrojchalalai became the first Thai rider to win the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE title.
#18 Patis Chooprathet | Race 1 Winner
“I really wanted to do good 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 honor. 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 position, I wasn’t in the best position I wanted at the final corner to settle in for 3rd. I wanted to clinch the Championship title by winning the race, but on the otherhand, I did not to fall. Now that I have the series title, 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 a exciting race from a sense that a Thai rider won at their home country. I would also like to congratulate Punchana who showed speed and steadiness throughtout the season to win the series title.
Tomorrow will be the last race of the season, and I would like to that 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 the title, as well as Patis for the first SAC Thai win in Buriram.”