Following a hectic qualifying, the only rider inside the top six qualifiers with a shot at the title was Kawasaki’s Azlan Shah. Not only would the races themselves be a point of focus, but watching how the championship battle would play out would make the final round doubly interesting.
In the first race on December 2 Shah made an excellent start from 4th position on the second row of the grid. Behind him were a group of riders including Wongthananon, Polamai, Warokorn and West. In the opening stages these five riders formed a lead group that swapped back and forth as they pulled away from the trailing pack. The second group included three possible title contenders yet if things played out as they were it was looking increasingly likely that Azlan Shah could take first place in the championship standings.
The battle really started to heat up with three laps left to go. At one point West took the lead, but local star Wongthananon would not give up. He re-passed West on the final lap to take his first victory in the class. West finished 2nd, Warokorn 3rd and Polamai 4th – all Thai riders except for West. Azlan Shah took 11 points with a 5th place finish giving him hope for Race 2.
December 3 was the 2017 season’s final race. Wongthananon got the holeshot as Azlan Shah also made a good start to take 2nd at the exit of the first corner. As expected, the contingent of local Thai riders followed close behind, with Polamai, Warokorn and Kraisart in hot pursuit.
Approaching the midpoint of the race, Wongthananon began to slowly pull away from the other riders and soon found himself running alone at the front. The gap back to Polamai and Azlan Shah at times widened, but the two quickly caught up as their fight for the podium got into full swing. Azlan Shah, who did not know what position championship rivals Zaidi and Hada were in, could only do his best to take the championship needing to finish as high up in the order as possible, with even one lost position potentially changing the outcome.
The final lap saw Azlan Shah placed in 4th stuck right to the rear of Polamai as they came through sector two. He passed Polamai for 3rd in sector three before taking the flag and 16 vital championship points, bringing him to a total of 155.
At race end it was official, Manual-Tech Kawasaki KYT and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman that had done everything required to secure a long-awaited championship victory. After six long years Kawasaki had earned the laurels of a championship victory in the class once more thanks to the spirited riding of Azlan Shah.