Decha eyes world stage after Japanese conquest
Decha Kraisart is on the verge of becoming the first Thai rider in nearly half a century to win the All Japan Road Race Championship title.
The youngster rode to victory at the Sportland Sugo circuit over the weekend in the fifth race of what is regarded as Asia's topflight competition.
Starting third on the grid, the Yamaha Thailand Racing rider made an explosive start and held the lead until the 10th lap when he was overtaken by Shinichi Nakatomi on a Kawasaki. Breathing down the Japanese's neck for most of the remaining race, the Thai managed to surge ahead on the final lap to take the chequered flag in stunning fashion.
Thai fortunes turned a bit sour when Decha's teammate, Chalermpol Polamai, crashed out of the race on the 15th lap.
The win tightened Decha's grip on the top spot in the overall standings of the ST600 class. He has 117 points while Nakatomi is 21 points adrift in second spot with only two races remaining.
Yamaha Thailand team manager Kornthat Kaenchanda was ecstatic at the win and revealed plans to promote Decha onto the world stage with a step up to MotoGP in the 600cc Moto2 division.
"Decha's result exceeded our expectations. We were hoping for a podium finish or a better placing than Nakatomi.
"Decha is likely to become the first Thai in 46 years to be crowned All Japan champion.
A top10 finish in the penultimate race in October will be enough to confirm Decha as champion.
"Thai Yamaha Motor is discussing Decha's future with its Japanese partners. We're looking into the possibility of fielding him in Moto2. But the problem is that all bikes in the division are Hondas.
"We need more talks to explore the options available. Maybe we will send him to compete as a wild card. It's going to happen, anyway, as we want to promote a local rider to the international stage," said Kornthat.