Copyright reserved by Chequered Flag Motorsport Agency, Ltd. and Motorsport Television Broadcasting, Ltd.
Story from http://blog.fmsct-live.com/ Boiling Point: the curious case of R2M Thailand SuperBikes, Round 3 By Barry Russell, 26.06.2011.
Last Sunday's combined R2M SB1 and SB2 superbike round was one of the strangest motorcycle races I have ever seen. A video clip of all the main incidents can now be seen on the Motorsport TV Facebook Page.
With the championship beginning to look like a two-horse race between 'Stamp' Apiwat Wongthanonanon and 'Tingnote' Thitipong Warakorn after mechanical problems have caused Saksit Sanakhan to fall back, further interest has been added by the late appearances of multiple champion and Thailand's most experienced superbike racer, 'Superbird' Saen Choisak and Panpund Team's Mickey Walker who was playing himself in by entering the SB2 category.
With Stamp, Tingnote, Saksit and Superbird making up the front row, the drama began before the race got underway, as Superbird launched off the line while the lights were still red. He made a ponderous three-point turn and then rode back through the grid, u-turned and re-took his grid position. The starting procedure was repeated as the bikes got hotter and the riders got more edgy and, to the disbelief of everyone watching, Superbird jump started again, though stopped more quickly this time and paddled back to his place on the outside of the front row.
When the lights went out for the third time, Walker's overheating Honda, on the outside of the second row, bogged down badly and he eventually spluttered away at the back of the field. "The bad start was because my engine was very hot and the water blew over my hands and my face," he explained. "It was too long spending on the grid with the engine running, then when we start racing the engine is shut down, just like that."
Tingnote got away in the lead, but, with the rebound on his front forks not working, he was passed by Stamp in turn one on the second lap. As the Panadda Racing rider grappled with his front forks and looked around, he collided with the side of Stamp's bike, as the Elf Smart Honda went into the lead. The video replay shows clearly that the contact was accidental.
While Stamp led, Tingnote kept his rival under pressure by making sure he could see he was there. He made clean pass into the final corner and Stamp came back at him on the home straight, outbraked him into the first bend and executed the now notorious kick as they leaned into the corner. A fired-up Tingnote chased and passed Stamp cleanly again and made it stick to take the chequered flag 2.5 seconds clear.
Then followed the post-race incident, when the two teams confronted each other in the paddock, which is being looked into carefully by race officials, who will make an announcement in due course. Certainly, emotions were running high as the riders got to parc ferme, but friends and officials intervened to calm things down and the only sign that there was anything wrong on the podium was Stamp's sulky demeanour.
On-track battles are a part of racing and what makes people turn up or turn on to watch; all race officials need to do is contain the rivalry for the safety of competitors and spectators. Stamp's action was a clear infringement and he will take his punishment and, we hope, develop a cooler head that will enable us to see the best of his talent. Superbird's bizarre infringements were punished too, with a 60 second penalty for his two jump-starts which dropped him from third on the road to fifth in the results.
However, It is the post-race incident that has the most damaging effect because it brought shame to motorcycle sport in Thailand and to the sponsors of the teams involved, who must be wondering at the thuggish behaviour of people they are paying to add value to their brands.
The leadership of all teams in the paddock have a duty to impress upon their members that supporting the efforts of riders to win includes keeping cool when emotions on track are running high. A reassuring word and an arm around the shoulder of a psyched-up racer is far more constructive than assaulting a rival team member. Take a breath and count to ten: for all the ferocious rivalry in MotoGP, when did you ever see even a hint of a physical confrontation between team managers and mechanics?
It is sincerely hoped that everyone involved will learn from last Sunday's incidents and that we will see clean, close racing when the integrated R2M/Motorcycle Mag SuperBike Championship re-convenes in just over one week for the next Motorcycle Mag Round at Bira International.