2018 Asian Road Racing Championship
Wilairot claims Supersport 600 title
Anthony West forced to watch from sidelines
By Barry Russell
The ARRC’s Supersport 600 season reached a dramatic climax at Chang International Circuit on the weekend, as Yamaha Thailand’s Ratthapong Wilairot put it all on the line to convert what was a mathematical long shot on Friday, into the 2018 championship by the middle of Sunday afternoon.
Anthony West, under provisional suspension by the sport’s governing body, the FIM, since mid-September, following positive results to an anti-doping test after the WSBK Misano on July 8, was again forced to watch from the sidelines. No explanation for the lengthy delay in resolving the 37-year-old Queenslander’s case has been forthcoming from the FIM, which has left both him and the ARRC in limbo for the past three months.
Despite having missed three of the championship’s six rounds, West took 136 points into the final weekend: a lead of 34 over his nearest challenger, 2017 champion, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman. Azlan’s Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki team-mate, Ahmad Yudhistira, Astra Honda protégé, and Farid Izdihar were tied in third position on 99, former champion Zaqwan Zaidi was next on 94, while Ratthapong had 91.
To help defend West’s championship lead, his Webike Ikazuchi team drafted in Randy Krummenacher, who had won the World Supersport round at Buriram in March. Krummenator’ joined South Africa’s Sheridan Morais, who was having a second run out for the team, following his debut at round five, in Indonesia.
In the end it was Ratthapong who stepped up, with the help of his mentor at Yamaha Thailand, Decha Kraisart, himself a former two-times ARRC Supersport champion. The 25-year-old Thai went to the top of the combined timing screens for Friday’s third free practice session, managing a lap of 1:38.939, almost three tenths quicker than Decha and half a second faster than Yudhistira and Krummenacher.
The Yamaha Thailand pair stayed in formation for qualifying on Saturday morning, as Ratthapong brought his time down to 1:39.903 and Decha managing 1:39.219. Keminth Kubo, for Yamaha Racing ASEAN, completed a solid blue line at the front of the grid, while Yudhistira led row two from Krummenacher and Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Tomoyoshi Koyama. Zaqwan, Azlan and Keisuke Kurihara made up row three.
Decha Kraisart made the best start in race one to lead the first lap from Ratthapong, Yudhistira and Kubo. Azlan Shah made a good start from the third row and slotted into fifth in turn one only to get forced into the run-off area at turn three as Zaqwan Zaidi low-sided into him. The 2017 champion stayed upright, but was in last place by the time he got himself back between the white lines.
With Decha and Ratthapong formation flying at the front, attention focused on the fight for third between Yudhistira and Kubo. The 19-year-old Thai got through on lap six, only to forfeit the place again to the Kawasaki. As they fought, Koyama began to reel them in.
Ratthapong got past Decha on lap 10. Mindful of championship positions, Decha tucked in behind his team-mate and managed a gap of almost five seconds back to Yudhistira who, after half distance, had the pace to manage his margin over Kubo.
Azlan, meanwhile, charged his way through the field, working his way back up to seventh by lap 14, dragging Andi Farid Izdihar with him, who had started from 15th on the grid.
At the end, Ratthapong and Decha stayed in formation to cross the line 1.3 seconds apart and more than five seconds clear of Yudhistira. Keminth just got the better of Koyama to seal fourth and Keisuke Kurihara was sixth on the road, despite going off track at the last turn. Azlan was seventh from Andi Farid, Yuki Ito and Azroy Hakeen Anuar, who completed the top ten.
Webike IKAZUCHI’s World Supersport stars, Sheridan Morais and Randy Krummenacher finished 11th and 12th.
Ratthapong’s 25 points brought his total to 116, 20 points behind West, while Yudhistira’s third place kept him in title contention with 115. Azlan, on 112, was also within a win of the championship.
Super Sport 600 Race 1 Results
- Ratthapong Wilairot (THA) Yamaha 29:56.061
- Decha Kraisart (THA) Yamaha +1.370
- Ahmad Yudhistira (INA) Kawasaki +5.372
- Keminth Kubo (THA) Yamaha +5.919
- Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) Honda +6.107
- Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS) Kawasaki +17.511
- Andi Farid Izdihar (INA) Honda +24.252
- Sheridan Morais (RSA) Yamaha +24.746
- Randy Krummenacher*** (SUI) Yamaha +25.026
- Passawit Thitivararak (THA) Honda +25.103
It was rinse and repeat at the start of race two, as Decha got another perfect launch from the middle of the front row, initially stretching away from title protagonists, Ratthapong and Yudhistira. A determined Azlan also made his way into contention, slotting into fifth, behind Keminth Kubo.
Yudhistira briefly got ahead of Ratthapong, before the Thai rider reasserted himself to get back in front and open up a gap on the Kawasaki. Yudhistira subsequently fell into the clutches of Kubo, who engaged him while Ratthapong moved closer to Decha.
Azlan, chased by Koyama, closed in on the battle for third, passing Kubo, who fought back, only to low-side out of the contest on lap eight. Meanwhile, Decha gave way to his team-mate at the front to put him five points clear in the live standings and Yudhistira began to consolidate third place. Koyama passed Azlan for fourth.
At the end of lap 12 and with one third of the race distance remaining, the gap between the blue duo at the front and Yudhistira was four seconds, as Koyama moved closer the back of the Indonesian’s Kawasaki. Decha looked as though he had the pace to win, but the more important job of helping Ratthapong become the first Thai to win the title since he himself last claimed it in 2010, prevailed.
Yudhistira finished three seconds back from Decha, just holding off Koyama for third, while Azlan was fifth, a further 3.5 seconds in arrears. Krummenacher was 11th, 13 seconds behind the winner and Morais was another two seconds and two places further behind.
Ratthapong’s win brought his points total to 141, five clear of the sidelined Anthony West. Yudhistira’s third place brought his total to 135 and therefore placed him third in the final standings.
Emotion spilled over as Ratthapong was greeted not only by his team, but by his brother, Ratthapark, and his mother, who held a memorial photo of his late father, Christmas Wilarot. It was the eighth anniversary of the Thai racing legend’s passing, as well as Ratthapong’s 26th birthday.
Super Sport 600 Race 2 Results
- Ratthapong Wilairot (THA) Yamaha 30:00.360
- Decha Kraisart (THA) Yamaha +0.341
- Ahmad Yudhistira (INA) Kawasaki +2.972
- Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) Honda +3.052
- Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS) Kawasaki +6.567
- Keisuke Kurihara (JPN) Honda +9.619
- Andi Farid Izdihar (INA) Honda +12.211
- Yuki Ito (JPN) Yamaha +12.239
- Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairudin (MAS) Kawasaki +12.487
- Passawit Thitivararak (THA) Honda +12.633
Super Sport 600 Final Standings
- Ratthapong Wilairot THA Yamaha 141
- Anthony West AUS Yamaha 136
- Ahmad Yudhistira INA Kawasaki 131
- Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman MAS Kawasaki 123
- Andi Farid Izdihar INA Honda 117
- Tomoyoshi Koyama JPN Honda 107
- Decha Kraisart THA YAMAHA 96
- Md Zaqhwan Zaidi MAS Honda 94
- Yuki Ito JPN Yamaha 86
- Keminth Kubo THA Yamaha 83
…28 Liam Taylor MacDonald NZL Yamaha 2
…29 Scott Nicholson AUS Suzuki 2
…30 Patrick Li AUS Yamaha 0
Asia Production 250cc
Wins for Rafid and Fadly and sin bin for Muklada
Both AP 250 races featured up to 15 bikes battling for podium positions and penalties from race direction that changed the on-track results. The fact that Astra Honda’s Rheza Danica Ahrens had already put the intermediate class title out of reach in round five did not prevent two of the most dramatic races of 2018 unfolding at Chang International.
With four riders within close reach of the runner-up spot and another eight capable of winning on any given Sunday, official eyes were glued to the 38 CCTV TV screens in race control.
AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi won the qualifying battle decisively a lap of 1:52.339 that was almost fourth tenths faster than Anuparb Sarmoon, with the Manual Tech KYT Ninja 250 of Andy Muhammad Fadly close behind and completing the front row.
In race one, more than half the grid managed to stay within one camera shot for the full ten lap distance. In the early stages Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi, Anuparb Sarmoon, Andy Mohammad Fadly, Awhin Sanjaya and Muklada Sarapuech spent most time at the front until Anuparb seemed to lose his cutting edge and Fadly pulled into the pits with a nasty top-end rattle coming from his Kawasaki’s engine. Rafid Topan Sucipto, who had started from the fourth row, moved up to join the list of potential winners and Rheza Danica also decided to get himself involved.
Muklada, clearly determined to make up for a season marred by race direction penalties and injury, increased an already formidable effort on the last two laps, swapping the first four places with Awhin, Rheza, Krithchaporn and Rafid, who led into Chang’s notorious final turn.
As they braked, Muklada hit Kritchaporn’s rear wheel, causing both bikes to go offline. They made contact again, and this time Kritchporn was unable to recover and crashed. Muklada lurched upright, across the track and clattered into Mario to make it a fourth successive DNF for the young Indonesian.
Race Direction took a dim view of Muklada’s last corner pinball performance, disqualifying her and dishing out a one race suspension that would keep her in the garage for race two. That elevated Anuparb to third, making a three-way fight for second place in the championship, with Anuparb on 142 points, Rafid on 138 and Awhin on 137.
Asia Production 250cc Race 1 Result
- Rafid Topan Sucipto (INA) Yamaha 19:03.592
- Awhin Sanjaya (INA) Honda +0.223
- Anupab Sarmoon (THA) Yamaha +0.734
- Rheza Danica Ahrens (INA) Honda +1.050
- Piyawat Patoomyos** (THA) Honda +1.211
- Kanatat Jaiman (THA) Yamaha +1.416
- Galang Hendra Pratama*** (INA) Yamaha +1.536
- Peerapong Boonlert (THA) Yamaha +1.896
- Ahmad Afif Amran (MAS) Yamaha +19.972
- Reynaldo Chrisantho Ratukore (INA) Yamaha +23.392
The usual suspects, minus Muklada, put a similar show on for Sunday. As the last lap lottery began Mario, Fadly, Awhin and Anuparb had a small gap back to Rheza, Kritchporn and Peerapong Boonlert, who helped each other to close back in by the time they reached turn five.
As they braked for the final corner, Anuparb was forced onto the grass and lost just enough momentum for Awhin, Fadly and Kritchaporn to beat him to the line. Mario, Peerapong and Rheza were all within six tenths of the winner to complete the top seven positions. Five seconds further back, race one winner, Rafid Topan Sucipto, held off Galang Hendra Pratama and Kanatat Jaiman for eighth place.
Race Direction subsequently intervened to penalise Awhin, Kritchaporn, Peerapong and Mario by dropping them five places each for exceeding track limits. That handed Fadly his first AP250 win and brought Rheza and Anuparb up to second and third places.
Rheza’s total points haul for the year increased to 226 and Anuparb held onto second place with 158 points from Rafid, who finished with 151.
Asia Production 250cc Race 2 Result
- Andy Muhammad Fadly (INA) Kawasaki 19:01.944
- Rheza Danica Ahrens (INA) Honda +0.539
- Anupab Sarmoon (THA) Yamaha +0.105
- Rafid Topan Sucipto (INA) Yamaha +5.581
- Galang Hendra Pratama*** (INA) Yamaha +5.780
- Awhin Sanjaya (INA) Honda — 10 laps —
- Kanatat Jaiman (THA) Yamaha +5.793
- Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi (THA) Honda +0.087
- Piyawat Patoomyos** (THA) Honda +6.220
- Mario Suryo Aji (INA) Honda +0.168
Asia Production 250cc Standings
- Rheza Danica Ahren INA Astra Honda 226
- Anupab Sarmoon THA YAMAHA 158
- Rafid Topan Sucipto INA Yamaha 151
- Awhin Sanjaya INA Honda 147
- Andy Muhammad Fadly INA Kawasaki 130
- Mario Suryo Aji INA Honda 128
- Muklada Sarapuech THA Honda 86
- Peerapong Boonlert THA Yamaha 82
- Reynaldo Chrisantho Ratukore***INA Yamaha 64
- Anggi Setiawan INA Yamaha 64
Wawan and Gupita win and Helmi takes the title
With 27 entries, the mono class served up two of the best races of the season, despite SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda’s Helmi Azman beginning the final round needing just one eighth place finish to seal 2018 title.
Indonesian wildcard, Wawan Wello, wowed underbone fans again, in just his second ARRC outing and his first trip to Buriram. After finding his way round in the first Friday session, he shot to the top of the timing screens in FP2 and recorded the quickest qualifying time – the only sub-two minute lap of the weekend – at the end of the afternoon to lead the fastest fifteen into Saturday’s Superpole shootout. Helmi had an engine problem in qualifying and found himself dropped 16 places to 19th when his team pushed his bike into the pit box during the session.
Helmi’s Australian team-mate, Travis Hall, got through to superpole by clocking 2:03.545, putting himself into the thick of a field of race winners and former champions and subsequently improved by four places from qualifying to start tenth.
In race one, attention inevitably focused on Helmi, who treated his challenge as a normal day’s work. Wawan and Affendi Rosli led the swarm into turn one, as Helmi sliced his way through to the top ten. Ahmad Fazli Sham showed well throughout the race, while two times former champion, Gupita Kresna, threatened and Reza Fahlevi, another Indonesian wildcard, had an impressive outing. Izzat Zaidi’s long-shot challenge for the championship didn’t materialise and he wasn’t able to get close to the front of 15-bike leading group.
As the last lap bare knuckle fight ensued, Wawan got clear to take the win from Helmi, Affendi Fazli Sham, Gupita and Reza, who completed the first six. With Izzat finishing 14th, Helmi’s title winning margin stood at 60 points. Travis finished 12th, just two seconds behind the race winner.
Underbone 150cc Race 1 Results
- Wawan Wello** (INA) Yamaha 16:18.788
- Md Helmi Azman (MAS) Honda +0.574
- Md Affendi Rosli (MAS) Yamaha +0.756
- Ahmad Fazli Sham (MAS) Yamaha +0.774
- Gupita Kresna (INA) Yamaha +0.775
- Reza Fahlevi** (INA) Yamaha +0.899
- Md Amirul Ariff Musa (MAS) Honda +1.055
- Md Akid Aziz (MAS) Yamaha +1.131
- Md. Aiman Azman (MAS) Honda +1.313
- Syahrul Amin (INA) Yamaha +1.439
…12. Travis Hall (AUS) Honda +2.110
Wawan out-dragged the rest of the field into turn one again on Sunday and briefly opened a gap until the chasing peloton sucked him back in on the long straight between turns three and four. Helmi Azman, along with Syahrul Amin, Ahmad Fazli Sham, Peerapong Luiboonpeng and Akid Aziz hounded the Indonesian upstart, forcing him back into the middle of the leading group by lap three.
Clearly believing in his right to lead the race, Wawan had charged back to the front one lap later, as his SND team-mates, Gupita and Syahrul, along with Helmi, Akid and Fazli Sham stayed close, trying to work out a way past the wild card.
As is often the case at the Thai circuit, the last corner and race direction played a major role in the finishing order. After leading much of the final lap, Wawan got caught in a melee as the leaders fanned out under braking for turn 12.
A total of seven bikes, including Travis Hall’s, went down and Syahrul scrambled through to the chequered flag first, one tenth ahead of Gupita who was chased across the line by Aiman Azman and Fazli Sham. After Race Direction had handed out a sheaf of five place drop penalties for exceeding track limits, Gupita was elevated to first position from Aiman, McKinley Kyle Paz, Helmi and Wawan.
Underbone 150cc Race 2 Results
- Gupita Kresna (INA) Yamaha 16:22.140
- Md. Aiman Azman (MAS) Honda +0.972
- McKinley Kyle Paz*** (PHI) Yamaha +1.018
- Md Helmi Azman (MAS) Honda +1.347
- Wawan Wello** (INA) Yamaha +1.398
- Syahrul Amin (INA) Yamaha — 8 laps —
- Md Amirul Ariff Musa (MAS) Honda +1.422
- Ahmad Fazli Sham (MAS) Yamaha +0.473
- Reza Fahlevi** (INA) Yamaha +1.485
- Md Izzat Zaidi (MAS) Yamaha +2.794
…DNF. Travis Hall
Underbone 150cc Standings
- Md Helmi Azman MAS Honda 197
- Md Izzat Zaidi MAS Yamaha 130
- Ahmad Fazli Sham MAS Yamaha 117
- Gupita Kresna Wardhana INA Yamaha Yamaha 110
- Md Akid Aziz MAS UMA Yamaha 95
- Md Amirul Ariff Musa MAS Honda 87
- Md Affendi Rosli MAS Yamaha 84
- Wahyu Aji Trilaksana INA Yamaha 83
- Syahrul Amin INA Yamaha 83
- Md Haziq Md Fairues MAS Yamaha 77
…14. Travis Hall AUS Honda 50
Images by FIM Asia Road Racing Championship