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Opening Round of Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Asia-Pacific Championship Kicks Off in Thailand

April 18, 2024


April 18, 2024—The Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Asia-Pacific Championship (R3 APC) was newly established for this season by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and major subsidiary Thai Yamaha Motor Co, Ltd. with the goal of discovering and support talented young riders in the Asia-Pacific region. The opening round of the season was held on April 5-7, 2024 at Chang International Circuit in Thailand.

The R3 APC is an evolution of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Thailand Cup that was previously held by Thai Yamaha Motor. Composed of six races, the series is intended for young riders between the ages of 12 and 18 from the Asia-Pacific region, who will race aboard Yamaha’s global sport model, the YZF-R3.

The championship-winning rider will receive support to compete for two seasons in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU FIM World Cup, which is held in conjunction with the Superbike World Championship to allow riders to make the next step and further hone their skills. They can do this by experiencing high-level competition against riders from around the world in the early stage of their careers, with the end goal being to produce riders who can compete on the world stage.

The first running of the championship this season has attracted 20 young riders from six countries, with an average rider age of 14, the youngest being 13 while the oldest is 17. The nationalities include one rider from Australia, one from China, one from Japan, one from New Zealand, three from the Philippines, and 13 from Thailand.

The opening round featured two races and was held between April 4 and 6, 2024. In it, Kakeru Okunuki of Japan took back-to-back wins to make a major step toward securing his chance at competing in the World Cup. Both races were very close contests, with more expected to come over the season as the riders battle it out to get their opportunity. The next round will be held between May 3 and 5 at Thailand Circuit.

2024 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Asia-Pacific Championship Riders

As of April 1, 2024.

Number Name Nationality Age
10 Zain Kaizzer Doblada Philippines 13
12 Theppitak Kraiyafai Thailand 16
13 Tanakit Pratumtong Thailand 15
14 Moses Gerard Reyes Philippines 13
17 Hayden Fordyce New Zealand 15
22 Chalath Natthapongpipat Thailand 15
23 Virakorn Natthapongpipat Thailand 14
27 Huann Ke China 13
28 Mytchell Joshua NGO Philippines 13
29 Chayakorn Saeong Thailand 15
30 Anak Waichalard Thailand 15
31 Kakeru Okunuki Japan 16
39 Natthakorn Kammayee Thailand 15
53 Pasavee Detraksa Thailand 17
54 Sakchai Khongduangdee Thailand 15
68 Ryan Larkin Australia 17
82 Kerkrit Chansuta Thailand 15
93 Supakarn Phasuraphonkul Thailand 15
97 Chonlasit Rakbumrung Thailand 15
99 Phornwasing Chanmaneerat Thailand 16

Racebike: YZF-R3


For Reference: Report on the Opening Round

Japanese Rider Kakeru Okunuki Does the Double

The opening round of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Asia-Pacific Championship (R3 APC) kicked off on April 5-7 with Japanese rider Kakeru Okunuki winning both races. From the preseason practices coming into the race weekend, all the riders had a full schedule of special activities and training aimed at allowing them to learn and get ready to compete this season.

The special schedule included work on braking and cornering techniques with advisors Yuki Ito and Decha Kraisart, both of whom have experience competing in the ARRC. In addition, the riders were able to learn about the diet, nutrition, racing gear, tires, and other vital information to help them be the best athletes and riders they can be. They also had the chance to visit the facilities of the Buriram United professional soccer team, a youth academy school and a Yamaha Motor dealership. Before the training program was complete, they visited a Buddhist temple to meditate, which helped them fortify their spirits in the leadup to the race weekend.

Over the course of the event the riders struggled to get to grips with the world-class circuit, but thanks to the training they had completed in the leadup, quite a few managed improve their lap times during the free practice and qualifying sessions, showing the results of their training. The opening race of the season was a memorable one, with Australian rider Ryan Larkin taking the holeshot. In the first few laps, Okunuki came forward from 9th on the grid to battle for the lead with Larkin and Thai riders Tanakit Pratumtong and Sakchai Khongduangdee.

The race came down to final lap as leader Okunuki dropped back to 4th position at one point, but braked hard into the final corner and was able to pass the three bikes ahead of him to take the win. Larkin finished behind him in 2nd and with Khongduangdee in 3rd.

In Race 2, the lead group was mostly the same as Pratumtong, Larkin and Khongduangdee were joined by Thai rider Theppitak Kraiyafai and Okunuki.

Okunuki and Khongduangdee initially broke away from the pack in the middle of the race, but by the final lap the group had re-formed. Although he gave up the lead, Okunuki was able to re-take it and hold off his rivals until the end to make it a fantastic double win. Pratumtong and Khongduangdee took 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.

Detailed reports and results are available on the R3 APC website (in English).

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