Local superbike rider Ben Fortt snatched victory in dramatic style last weekend in the latest round of the IRC-ELF 2017 GPI Championship at the Bira International Circuit in Pattaya.
Yamaha Thailand’s Anon Sangval got another perfect launch from pole position, but Fortt, on the Laiprang YSS Kawasaki, got the better of him on the fast downhill section at the back of the circuit and set a pace that his rivals were not able to match, building a lead between himself, Anon and Apidej Boonsri on the PTT NUDA Kawasaki, who fell back in the treacherous wet conditions.
It was all going to plan for Fortt until around lap 9 of 14 when his clutch started to slip, allowing Anon to take back the lead, and leaving Fortt on the Kawasaki struggling to keep on his tail.
There was another twist in the tale, however, when an electrical problem brought the leading Yamaha to a halt at Turn 1 on Lap 11. Fortt, having suffered more than his fair share of misfortunes in 2017, took full advantage and forced his bike through the remaining three laps to take the win.
Apidej kept it steady to finish more than half a lap down, while Bodeepak Watcharakajonwong rode the Aprilia Thailand RSV4R Factory bike to third place a further 22 seconds back.
With that being Anon’s first DNF, Fortt’s 25 points took him closer to the leader’s 175, with 41 points now being the deficit, and which keeps the national championship alive with four rounds left.
Fortt remarked after the race, “I was surprised to see the Yamaha come to a halt but I’m just elated to have won the championship at my local track in front of all my friends and family.”