For this 6th YAMAHA ASEAN CUP RACE, the event color was changed from the YAMAHA Red of previous years to the new YAMAHA Racing Blue. And, reflecting the perception of this race as an important opportunity to nurture talented young riders, many of the teams were full of the new faces of first-time participants and riders moving up from the Novice to Expert classes.
In the Saturday qualifying, Thailand's Chanon Chumjai won the Expert Class pole position for Sunday's races. Despite competing in the Expert Class for the first time, he was the only one to break the 1 min. 24 sec. barrier with a 1 min. 23.788 sec. lap time on the highly technical 1,100m track with its combination of a long straight and a total of 17 high- and low-speed curves.
Race day, Sunday the 18th, began with a 15-minute warm-up session for the riders to make their final adjustments. Then, after a warm and hospitable opening ceremony, the racing began with the first 12-lap heat of the Novice Class competition.
That first heat was won by Malaysia's Hafizh Syahrinon on machine #7 starting from second position on the grid. After taking the hole shot, however, Hafizh was passed by Thailand's Thanate Sukchalern (#29). On lap two Hafizh would drop as low as 5th position before working back to 3rd on lap 8 and 2nd on lap 9. On lap 10 he took back the lead while recording the fastest lap of the race, and then pulled away from the competition to win eventually with a 5-sec. lead. Finishing 2nd was Indonesia's Topan Sucipto (#50), who had led the race from lap 6 before finally being passed by Hafizh. Third place went to Thailand's Kitsiphat Prashanphot (#39), with teammate Thanate following in 4th.
In the second heat run after the lunch break, Hafizh once again got the hole shot to take the early lead. But Thanate was soon on his tail and the two riders raced on in unison, neither giving an inch. Finally, Thanate used the slipstream to cut inside Hafizh on the first corner of lap five and take the lead. Although Hafizh continued to race hard and run faster lap times later in the race, he failed to catch Thanate at the checkered by just a 10th of a second.
In the Expert Class that always brings highly competitive races every year, the race distance was 15 laps. Taking the early lead in the first heat was the pole starter, Chanon Chumjai of Thailand on machine #53. He was followed by Thai teammates Thitipong Warokorn (#1) and Worawut Puttho (#45). On lap two Worawut moved into 2nd position as the three leaders opened up a more than 2-sec. gap over the rest of the field. As the leader Chanon began to slow slightly later in the race, Worawut took over the lead on lap seven. The top three kept those positions to the end of the race, thus giving Worawut his first victory in six years of competing in the ASEAN CUP RACE. Following Chanon and Thitipong in 4th place was yet another Thai rider, Pattanapong Maneesri (#34), giving the host country a sweep of the top four places.
The last race of the day was the second heat of the Expert Class competition. Getting the hole shot in this race was the first heat's 3rd-place finisher, Thitipong. He was followed by Chanon in 2nd and Maico Greg T. Buncio (#10) of the Philippines in 3rd. On lap six, Chanon took over the lead and began to break away from the rest. But Thitipong fought back to retake the lead on lap 11 and run on to the win.
Behind them, a tight battle for 3rd developed between Malaysia's Ahmad Fuad Baharudin (#26), Buncio and the first heat's winner, Worawut. In the end it was the veteran Ahmad who won the 3rd spot on the podium, but what impressed many of the spectators was the sight of the six top finishers grouping together on the cool-down lap to congratulate each other for a well-fought competition. It was a scene that emphasized one of the main purposes of the ASEAN CUP RACE: international exchange and friendship.
Besides all the exciting racing, visitors to the event got to share other aspects of the joys and excitement of motorcycling through a number of special attractions at the event venue, including a "YAMAHA GALLERY" presenting YAMAHA as the "Sporty, Stylish and Innovative" brand and a Yamaha Bike Festival with numerous attractions organized by Thai Yamaha Motor.