Asia’s Supersport stars to resume wide-open title fight at Tailem Bend

By Barry Russell

Australian fans are in for a new experience this weekend, as the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) brings its brand of close, hard-fought motorcycle racing to Tailem Bend. It is the second of six rounds for the ARRC, which joins the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) for an extended race programme from Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd April.  Like ASBK, each round of the Asian series has two races for its three classes.

FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport
FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport

An always tight title fight in the ARRC’s Supersport 600 class is being made more dramatic by the absence of early championship leader and home hero, Anthony West, whose points advantage is sure to be torn into by the chasing pack.

Track action aside, plenty of history will be made during the four days. For starters, the arrival of the ARRC caravan will make it the first ever international race to be held at Australia’s newest international circuit. It will also be the first time in its 22 year history that the ARRC extends its continental reach into Oceana, bringing with it a global viewing audience of millions.

FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport
FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport

In another piece of racing history, 2018 is the 18th and final year that Supersport 600 features as the ARRC’s premier class; from 2019 it will change to Superbikes and run on similar regulations to those in ASBK. That is providing an opportunity to bring the Asian series closer to Australia’s resurgent national superbike championship that is being seized by both promoters and by the FIM HQs in both continents.

The collaboration is hitting the ground running, with Aussie wildcards mixing it in Asia Production 250cc and Underbone 150cc as well as Supersport 600.

FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport
FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport

From its earliest days, the ARRC’s premier division has pitched young, up and coming riders against established Grand Prix and World Superbike stars. As well as providing targets for the emerging elite, the big names help to secure a huge international fan base that watches every round on live streaming and TV. There is no better example than Anthony West, now in his third season, who has brought thousands of new Australian fans to the series.

Zaqwan Zaidi, Decha Kraisart and Anthony West doing battle
Zaqwan Zaidi, Decha Kraisart and Anthony West doing battle

Other senior riders in recent years include Ryuichi Kiyonari, Katsuaki Fujiwara and Yuki Takahashi, who all won championships, and Noriyuki Haga, who raced for three seasons until the end of 2017.

Japanese legends who have worked as rider coaches and team managers include Shinya Nakano, Yukio Kagayama, Makoto Tamada, now Team Manager for Thailand’s AP Honda Racing, and Youichi Ui, who is Chief Mechanic for Yamaha Thailand. Fujiwara added a Team Manager’s title his resume by winning the Supersport 600 Championship in 2017.

Katusaki Fujiwara and Azlan Shah
Katusaki Fujiwara and Azlan Shah

Tailem Bend, as a new arena, flattens an already level playing field. Even without Anthony West, who took a first, a second and a 13-point lead away from Round 1, there are nine riders capable of winning or getting podiums.

They are 2013 and 2017 Champion, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ahmad Yudhistira (Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki), 2014 and 2016 Champion, Zaqwan Zaidi and Tomoyoshi Koyama (MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda), Taiga Hada (Idemitsu Honda Racing India) and a quartet of Yamaha riders: two-times champion, Decha Kraisart and Ratthapong Wilairot (Yamaha Thailand) and Yuki Ito and Keminth Kubo (Yamaha Racing Asean).

Ahmad Yudhistira is a previous ARRC Supersport Champion
Ahmad Yudhistira is a previous ARRC Supersport Champion

Zaqwan Zaidi however will not be racing in Australia as he has prioritised his appearance this weekend in the All Japan JSB1000 series in preparation for when ARRC moves its premier class up to 1000cc in 2019.

British Supersport rider, Joe Francis, 20, will be riding Anthony West’s Yamaha in the championship leader’s absence and will certainly be mixing it up with the leading group at Tailem Bend.

Australian Supersport wildcards hoping to upset the orderly progress of series regulars are Tom Toparis, Broc Pearson and Scott Nicholson.

In fact, neither of the Round 1 winners will be in South Australia, as Race 1 went to Kawasaki wildcard, Thitipong Warakorn. The opening championship positions therefore give few clues to what will happen in Round 2.

Azlan Shah opened his title defence with two third places, staying clear of the attrition that put some of his most fancied rivals out of early contention.

Azlan Shah
Azlan Shah

That included an incident at Chang International’s notorious final turn, when 2016 champion, Zaqwan Zaidi skittled an in-form Ratthapong Wilairot out of a likely second place with an impossibly late lunge under braking.

Decha Kraisart was another one to throw a good finish away, by crashing out of the lead in Race 1. The canny Azlan will be looking for two more strong showings to overhaul West’s advantage and to stretch his lead over the others.

Ratthapong Wilairot and Keminth Kubo
Ratthapong Wilairot and Keminth Kubo

One wildcard rider who definitely fancies his chances is Broc Pearson, who competed in the Asia Dream Cup in 2015 and 2016 and entered the final ARRC Supersport 600 round of 2017 at Chang International. Having also ridden his YRD backed Yamaha R6 at The Bend’s ASBK Official test in early April, the 17 year old has unique insight into how things might unfold this weekend.

Broc Pearson

“To be fast on a 600 at The Bend, where there isn’t much rubber, the winner will need to be very conservative on tyres and have a smooth riding style, so I am thinking Azlan Shah has a good chance of victory. I am looking for good results as a wildcard. I love my R6 and should be fine with the Dunlop slicks after a few adjustments. Apart from that, there are no rule differences between ASBK and ARRC that should affect me.”

Broc Pearson at The Bend ASBK Test early this month - TBG Image
Broc Pearson at The Bend ASBK Test early this month – TBG Image

Asia Road Racing Supersport Championship Rules

For further comparison on the technical side we turned to the ARRC’s Chief Technical Inspector, Scottish born Paul Dawson, who lives, works and races in Australia.

ARRC’s Chief Technical Inspector, Paul Dawson

“Both 600 classes have a similar spec and are not far removed their road going equivalents. However, ARRC bikes run bigger radiators to maximise cooling, while ASBK machines have to stick with the stock system.

“Fuel and tyres are different, ARRC has controlled fuel and tyres, whereas ASBK teams can choose from a range of homologated tyres and fuels, including race fuel. ECUs can be replaced in both classes.

“The ARRC allow free reign with ECU choice, but traction control is not allowed, while ASBK machines have a much more limited choice of ECUs, but no restrictions on functionality.

“The latest Yamaha YZF-R6 has built-in traction control, so arguably gets an edge over its rivals. The differences do mean that ASBK wildcards will need to make a few changes.”


There is a huge sense of anticipation and excitement within ARRC ahead of its historic trip to The Bend Motorsport Park. Everyone, from the promoter to riders, teams and officials, are looking forward to the new experience and to bringing a truly dramatic show of motorcycle racing to fans in Australia.


NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2010

2012

2013

2014 – 2015

2016

2017

Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman

25

34

Malaysia

Kawasaki

Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing

3rd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Champion – CP130, Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix C’ship

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Debut – Moto2 GP World Championship

Moto2 GP World Championship

3rd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Ahmad Yudhistira

33

25

Indonesia

Kawasaki

Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki

8th overall, Underbone 115cc, ARRC

3rd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

7th overall, Supersport 600cc, ARRC

3rd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, Indonesian Race Series (IRC)

8th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

5th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2014

2015

2016

2017

Zaqwan Zaidi

21

23

Malaysia

Honda

MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda

Champion – CP130, Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix C’ship

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Moto2 GP World Championship (4 rounds)

10th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2007

2011 – 12

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Tomoyoshi Koyama

71

35

Japan

Honda

MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda

3rd overall – GP125 World Championships

Moto2 GP World Championships

5th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

5th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Asia Production 250cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2011-12

2012

2014

2015

2016

2017

Taiga Hada

23

19

Japan

Honda

Idemistsu Honda Racing India by T.Pro Ten10

Minibike

Champion – NSR50

2nd overall – Underbone 130cc, ARRC

22nd overall – Supersport 600, ARRC

10th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

3rd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2003

2004

2005

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011-13

2012

2014

2015

2016

2017

Decha Kraisart

24

37

Thailand

Yamaha

Yamaha Thailand Racing Team

Champion – 114cc Royal Trophy Cup

Champion – 110cc Thailand C’ship

Champion – Expert, Yamaha Asean Cup

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Champion – 600cc Royal Trophy C’ship

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

Champion – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

All Japan Road Race C’ship

Champion – ST600, MFJ All Japan Road Race C’ship

Moto2 GP World Championship

World Supersport Championship Wildcard

5th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

8th overall – Supersport 600, ARRC

2nd position – World Supersport Championship, Thailand Round (wildcard)

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Ratthapong Wilairot

56

26

Thailand

Yamaha

Yamaha Thailand racing team

21st overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

17th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

10th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

6th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

14th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

9th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Yuki Ito

76

27

Japan

Yamaha

Yamaha Racing Asean

4th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

2nd overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

4th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

13th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

4th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

NAME:

BIKE NUMBER:

AGE:

COUNTRY:

MAKE:

TEAM:

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

2015

2016

2017

Keminth Kubo

64

19

Thailand

Yamaha

Yamaha Racing Asean

2nd overall – R2M Thailand Yamaha R3 C’ship

Champion – ST600, Motegi Road Race C’ship

2nd overall – ST600, Sugo Road Race C’ship

13th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC

17th overall – Supersport 600cc, ARRC


FIM Asia Road Racing Supersport Championship Points Standings

1. Anthony West (AUS) 45
2. Azlan Shah (MAS) 32
3. Thitipong Warokorn (THA) 25
4. Decha Kraisart (THA) 20
5. Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) 20
6. Yuki Ito (JPN) 17
7. Andi Farid Izdihar (INA) 16
8. Keminth Kubo (THA) 16
9. Taiga Hada (JPN) 15
10. Zaqhwan Zaidi (MAS) 14
11. Azroy Hakeem Anuar (MAS) 13
12. Ratthapong Wilairot (THA) 12
13. Ahmad Yudhistira (INA) 11
14. Irfan Ardiansyah (INA) 9
15. Ramdan Rosli (MAS) 7
16. Passawit Thitivararak (THA) 4
17. Keisuke Kurihara (JPN) 3
18. Kasma Daniel (MAS) 1


FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Supersport Entry List Tailem Bend

1 Broc Pearson*** 12 AUS Yamaha
2 Irfan Ardiansyah. 16 Astra Honda Racing Team INA Honda
3 Tom Toparis*** 17 Cube Racing AUS Kawasaki
4 Azroy Hakeem Anuar 20 Musashi Boon Siew Honda MAS Honda
5 Taiga Hada 23 Idemitsu Honda Racing India by T.Pro Ten10 JPN Honda
6 Decha Kraisart 24 YAMAHA Thailand Racing TEAM THA Yamaha
7 Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman 25 Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing MAS Kawasaki
8 Andi Farid Izdihar 27 Astra Honda Racing Team INA Honda
9 Patrick Li 29 Webike IKAZUCHI Racing AUS Yamaha
10 Md Ramdan Rosli 32 Hong Leong YAMAHA Malaysia MAS Yamaha
11 Ahmad Yudhistira 33 Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing INA Kawasaki
12 Scott Nicholson*** 39 NextGen Motorsports AUS Suzuki
13 Ratthapong Wilairot 56 YAMAHA Thailand Racing TEAM THA Yamaha
14 Keminth Kubo 64 YAMAHA Racing Team ASEAN THA Yamaha
15 Muhammad Ibrahim Norrodin 66 ZK Racing Kawasaki MAS Kawasaki
16 Yuki Ito 76 YAMAHA Racing Team ASEAN JPN Yamaha
17 Md Afiq Azmi 80 ONEXOX TKKR Racing Team MAS Yamaha
18 Keisuke Kurihara 88 A.P. Honda Racing Thailand JPN Honda
19 Md Muzakkir Mohamed 92 ONEXOX TKKR Racing Team MAS Yamaha
20 Passawit Thitivararak 123 A.P Honda Racing Thailand THA Honda
21 Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin 127 Hong Leong YAMAHA Malaysia MAS Yamaha
22 Tomoyoshi Koyama 634 Musashi Boon Siew Honda JPN Honda
23 TBC** TBC Webike IKAZUCHI Racing Yamaha


Barry Russell is a motorcycle journalist and a frequent FIM Steward for the Asia Road Racing Championship. He will be joining Mark Bracks as a trackside commentator for ASBK Round 3 and ARRC Round 2.

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