Somkiat Chantra becomes the first Thai to win a MotoGP Grand Prix race on Sunday, turning in a stunning performance that saw him lead the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia from the first corner to the checkered flag.
Somkiat, driving for the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, beat out World Championship leader Celestino Vietti by 3.2 seconds with third place going to Aron Canet, who collected his second podium of the season.
A stunner from Chantra
The race was cut to only 16 laps for the intermediate class – 2/3 distance due to safety, caused by excessively high temperatures. Then, more drama, as light rain started to fall on the warmup lap.
The race got underway though and it was Chantra who pinched the holeshot from the second row, polesitter Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) was P2 before Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) slipped by at Turn 2.
The rain was still lingering as Chantra held onto the lead from Lowes and Dixon, with Vietti eventually getting the better of Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) as the Italians battled it out at the end of the opening lap. Canet was a beneficiary of the Vietti/Corsi fight, the Spaniard was P4 and in touch with Lowes and Dixon.
On Lap 6, after just passing compatriot Lowes for second place, Dixon tucked the front at Turn 10. Chantra had opened a gap up to over a second, and after Dixon’s crash, Canet was now second ahead of Lowes. Vietti then passed Lowes for P3, and with nine laps to go, two seconds split the top three. Vietti made a classy move on Canet stick at Turn 12 and his gap to bridge was 2.1 seconds with eight laps remaining.
The response from Chantra? The fastest lap of the race. 2.2 seconds was now his lead over Vietti, and on the next lap, it was up to 2.3 seconds. Now 2.6 seconds was the new gap with five laps to go, it looked like Vietti and company had no answer for the Thai star. With two laps to go, the gap was three seconds and all Chantra had to do was bring it home.
And that’s exactly what he did. Chantra crossed the line to claim victory by more than three seconds, becoming the first Thai rider to win in Grand Prix racing. Vietti was able to hold off Canet to pick up P2, the latter takes home P3 as the duo make it back-to-back podiums to start the season.
The points scorers in Mandalika
In the end, Lowes was a lonely finisher in P4 as Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) held off the recovering Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) for P5 and P6, Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up) was P7, with Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) P8. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claimed P9 after his Long Lap Penalty, the Spaniard was embroiled in a great battle with 10th place Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team).
Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) ended P11, a good ride from the American after failing to make it out of Q1 on Saturday, he had compatriot Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) less than a tenth behind him in P12. Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40), Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) were the final top 15 finishers.
There wouldn’t have been many people expecting that sort of masterclass from Chantra, but what a day for him, his team, and Thailand. Vietti extends his title lead to nine points over Canet heading to Argentina.
- Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia)
- Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 3.230
- Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 4.366
- Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 7.918
- Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 12.228
- Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 12.384
- Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 12.696
- Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 14.547
- Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 17.786
- Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 18.327