Drift racing champ shot dead in Pattaya

Friday, 16 May 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 20 By  Boonlua Chatree

A well-known drift-car racer was killed when four unknown assailants shot him in the head while riding a motorbike through Pattaya.

Thanapron Pandontri, 24, known in racing circles as “Super Benz”, died instantly when the 38-caliber bullet pieced his motorcycle helmet within sight of the Dongtan Beach police substation May 5. Police witnessed the shooting, but were unable to catch the gunmen.

Girlfriend Sudarat Bunsombut, 22, was riding with Thanapron and told police they were driving to meet the 24-year-old driver’s brother when four men on two motorbikes began following them. The race driver was unconcerned, she said, until they pulled up behind and next to him. One pulled a handgun and opened fire.

Pattaya Police Superintendent Col. Supachai Puikaewkam alleged the victim had been involved with gold-snatching gangs in Pattaya and Laem Chabang before he started racing.

While they have no proof to back their assertions, police speculated the shooting was motivated either by revenge, illegal-business conflicts or a dispute over a woman.

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