Just when we thought that silly season was finally over, the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team made a last-minute announcement that took many Thai fans by surprise – Ratthapong Wilairot will be racing for the Yamaha marquee in 2018.


The announcement made shockwaves through the Thai social media. Fans expressed their disbelief. Media outlets and sports influencers scrambled to verify the news. Why? Because the Wilairot family has had a relationship with Honda that stretched back to the mid-90s. Ratthapong’s father, the late Christmas Wilairot, was one of AP Honda’s top riders in the ARRC. On to the next generation, Ratthapong’s elder brother, Ratthapark Wilairot, followed the Honda route right up to the Moto2 class of the MotoGP and is now contracted as coach for the AP Honda Racing Team.


As the Asian paddock converge for the pre-season test prior to the season opener this weekend, Ratthapong looks to have settled in comfortably with his new team. The 26-year-old will partner 2-times SuperSports 600cc Champion Decha Kraisart.


Working alongside a seasoned campaigner like Decha could possibly be the best thing for Ratthapong’s race craft. We lay out a comparison between Ratthapong’s 2017 laptimes at the Chang International Circuit versus the pre-season test laptimes:


2017 – Round 2 2017 – Round 6 2018 Pre-Season
FP1 – 1’41.496

FP2 – 1’41.323

FP3 – 1’41.111

QP – 1’39.705

R1 – 1’40.325

R2 – 1’40.551

FP1 – 1’40.737

FP2 –

FP3 – 1’40.015

QP – 1’39.916

R1 – 1’40.115

R2 – 1’40.160

P1 – 1’42.290

P2 – 1’39.727

P3 – 1’39.303

P4 – 1’40.235

P5 – 1’39.675

P6 – 1’40.398