The Asia Road Racing Championship had a new look for its second trip to Tailem Bend for the double header with ASBK. The visitors turned up with three classes again, however for 2019 the Underbone 150s were replaced in the schedule by the Asian Superbikes (ASB) which make its debut as ARRC’s premier class this season.
The big bikes were joined by the Supersport 600s, which now has an upper age limit of 25, and the Asia Production 250 class. That meant that many of the senior riders who raced 600s last year have moved up to the litre class, including double champions, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Zaqwan Zaidi, 2019 champion Ratthapong Wilairot, and last year’s Supersport race winner Yuki Ito.
They are joined this year by Broc Parkes, who has added a full season in ARRC to his FIM Endurance World Championship duties. By design the rules for ASB 1000 are similar to ASBK’s, with a few key differences.
Exceptions are the larger radiators that are allowed in the Asian series, which runs in several hot countries, like Malaysia and Thailand, and the control tyres that have been specifically developed by Dunlop for ARRC. The similarities make it easy for riders to switch between series during the course of a season.
This factor was pivotal for ARRC Round 2. The championship leader after round one, Kawasaki Thailand’s Thitipong Warakorn, was absent with back and chest injuries sustained during his WSBK wildcard appearance at Buriram, when he crashed and was run over by Leon Camier.
As the Thai rider goes through the long process of recovering and getting fit, Kawasaki Japan assigned his ride to Bryan Staring who is currently competing the ASBK championship with the BCPerformance Kawasaki team in Kawasaki Superbikes, thereby putting him on double duty for the four-day event.
Asia Superbike 1000
During practice and qualifying Staring got into a battle for supremacy with his compatriot Broc Parkes, with the two Aussies battling it out. It was won by the Yamaha rider, who took pole position with a stunning single lap of 1:52.581, more than six tenths clear of Staring.
Yamaha Thailand’s former AP 250 champion, Apiwat Wonthananon was third, ahead of Yuki Ito, Zaqwan Zaidi and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, who completed row two.
Asia Superbike 1000 – Race 1
In warmer conditions than had prevailed for qualifying, it was Staring who got the best drive at the start to lead lap one from Parkes, Zawan and Apiwat. His bold attempt to get away was quickly closed down by Parkes who got past him one lap later and opened up a comfortable gap of this own, which had extended up to 1.5 seconds by the end of lap four. Staring kept a good distance between him and third-placed Zaqwan, who beat off a challenge from Apiwat, Azlan and Yuki Ito.
The soft rear Dunlop of the leading Yamaha began to lose grip shortly before half of the 12 laps were done, which allowed the Kawasaki stand-in to reel him him back in. Staring made his move on lap eight with a well-planned move that saw him pull out of Parkes’s slipstream as they got to the braking zone at the end of the one kilometer straight and go cleanly past and into the lead at turn one. The Yamaha rider had no answer and Staring opened up a gap that stretched out to more than two seconds at race end.
Behind the two Australians, Zaqwan forged himself a comfortable slot in third place ahead of Ito, who was coming through strongly after passing Azlan for fourth. Then it went wrong for the Honda Asia Dream pilot, as a mistake on the last lap allowed Ito to seize third, while Zaqwan recovered to claim fourth.
Azlan finished fifth from the Yamaha Thailand pairing of Apiwat and Ratthapong Wilairot, while Ahmad Yudhistira, Chaiwichit and Farid Hisham completed the top ten.
Parkes’s second place lifted him to the top of the standings with a total of 47 points. The absent Thitipong was relegated to second with 40, while Zaqwan was on 38, Azlan on 36 and Ito on 34.
Asia Superbike 1000 – Race 2
Cool, windy conditions returned on Sunday, dropping air temperatures to 15-19 degrees, with track temperatures just a few clicks higher. After losing grip at around half distance while in the lead the day before, Broc Parkes worked with his Yamaha ASEAN Racing team to recalibrate the bike and rider for race two.
Bryan Staring, whose Kawasaki Thailand ZX10RR had performed flawlessly to take the race one win, realised his Australian rival was likely to be much closer in race two and that the regular Asian riders would also be building on what they had learned the day before at The Bend.
Staring had another perfect launch from the middle of the front row to take the lead. Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon got away well to the right of the Kawasaki and slotted in behind him.
As the front of the pack shuffled itself into shape Broc Parkes moved into third and these three began to put daylight between themselves and Zaqwan Zaidi, who led a chasing group that also included the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW of Azlan Shah and the Yamahas of Yuki Ito and Ratthapong Wilairot. TJ Alberto and Kazuma Tsuda crashed at turn two and took no further part.
As the first half of the 12 lap race approached, Apiwat was passed by Parkes and began to slip back towards Zaqwan, who was himself under pressure from Azlan Shah and Yuki Ito. After watching the back of the black Kawasaki for a few laps, Parkes made his move and slipped into lead on lap 10. Staring stayed close, taking his turn for follow and watch. Apiwat was passed by Zaqwan, Ito and Azlan, which left the two Yamaha Thailand riders in sixth and seventh. Ito got himself through to third, leaving Azlan and Zaqwan to dispute fifth.
The game of cat and mouse at the front came to an end as Parkes and Staring began lap 11, with both riders pushing hard. Parkes lost the front twice in his efforts, as Staring kept the pressure on. The Yamaha rider pulled just enough of a gap on the last lap to put the win out of reach and crossed the line with a winning margin of almost half a second.
Ito took his second third place of the weekend, 1.4 seconds further back and eight seconds clear of Zaqwan, whose Asia Dream Racing Honda overcame the BMW of Azlan. Apiwat and Ratthapong held on for sixth and seventh. Yudhistira, Chaiwichit and Farid completed the top ten.
The 45 points collected by Broc Parkes over the two races put him on 72 points, 11 clear of Zaqwan, who now has 61. Azlan, Staring and Apiwat are on 47,46 and 44 respectively, while the injured Thitipong has slipped from first to seventh with 40 points.
Yamaha Thailand’s Peerapong Boonlert looked as though qualifying would go his way after leading free practice and most of Friday’s scrap for grid places. The plan was foiled when Ibrahim Norrodin, standing in for his older brother, Adam, who was away racing in the CEV Moto2 championship, knocked the dominant Thai off the top with a lap of 1:56.580 to bag pole position.
Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Azroy Hakeem Anuar showed good pace throughout and earned himself third position, thanks to a best lap of 1:57.391.
Rheza Danica Ahrens continued his acclimatisation to 600s and led row two from Helmi Azman and Andi Farid Izdihar. Helmi crashed late in the session and was taken to the medical centre to have a knock to his ankle checked, but was deemed fit to race.
Asia Supersport 600 – Race 1
Yamaha Thailand’s Peerapong Boonlert delivered a masterclass to his Supersport 600 rivals on Saturday at Tailem Bend by taking his third win from three starts in the class. What he showed them was how to win a race from the front with his deceptively fast, smooth style of riding.
Behind the flying Thai, spectators were treated to a race long, enthralling battle between poleman and SIC TK Racing’s ‘super-sub’ Ibrahim Norrodin, Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Azroy Anuar and another replacement rider, who would go on to steal the show, Victor Racing’s Javier Orellana Malloy.
Helmi Azman, nursing a sore ankle after a heart-stopping highside in qualifying, featured prominently in the scrap for second until he went over the top of his Honda again on lap six. Thankfully the tumble he took didn’t exacerbate the knocks sustained the previous afternoon, and he managed to nurse the bike back to pit lane unaided.
Javier, who missed two practice sessions after destroying his bike on Thursday, quickly
found his rhythm and wasted no time moving up from the fourth row into the battle for second and looked increasingly convincing as the 10-lap race went on. The fairytale suddenly switched from being about Ibrahim’s spectacular substitution for his older brother to Javier’s charge for glory for the privately run Victor Racing Team.
As the final lap got underway and with Peerapong two seconds clear at the front, the three men behind him swapped positions at every turn, until Javier got past Ibrahim in sector four and got just enough of a gap to carry him to the line. Azroy also got through, leaving Ibrahim off the podium in fourth.
Six seconds further back, Afif Amran had an impressive outing as a stand-in for Hong Leong Yamaha to finish fifth just ahead of AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Passawit Thitivararak and Astra Honda’s Andi Farid Izdihar.
Asia Supersport 600 – Race 2
As commentators struggled to find new superlatives for the performances of Peerapong Boonlert, Yamaha Thailand’s latest Supersport superstar, the rider himself calmly clicked the dial to rinse and repeat, delivering another perfect performance, despite coming under more pressure today.
Another perfect start from the centre of the first row, got the imperious Thai the hole-shot he wanted, as an injured Helmi Azman snapped at his heels through the first few turns. Azroy Anuar followed his Musashi Boon Siew team-mate, before passing him for second.
Meanwhile SIC TK’s ‘super-sub’, Ibrahim Norrodin, recovered from an indifferent start and moved past the two Malaysians as Peerapong attempted an escape. Ibrahim closed in on Peerapong and chased him hard for a few laps as the Astra Honda of Andi Farid Izdihar also passed Helmi and Azroy and got through to third.
Hong Leong Yamaha’s Afif Amran, meanwhile was having another good outing, coming through from his third row start and also passed Helmi and Azroy. The star of race one, Javier Malloy and Kritchaporn crashed out on lap one.
Peerapong didn’t flinch under the pressure and kept going as Ibrahim tried to find a way to get close enough to pass, but found himself increasingly engaged in a battle with Andi for second place. The leader stretched his margin over the last two laps to finish almost a second clear of Andi, who won the contest for P2, while Ibrahim took third from the impressive Arif. Azroy was sixth and Helmi, Passawit, Rheza, Fakhrusy and Akid Aziz completed the top ten.
Peerapong’s four-from-four give him a perfect score after two rounds of 100 points, which is a margin of 51 over his nearest rival, Andi Farid Izdihar. With the next round at the leader’s home track in Buriram, a straight six is easily foreseeable.
Andy Fadly, who scored his first ever AP 250 podium at the Bend last year, sealed a successful first two days by taking pole position, despite finding himself under pressure from his new Manual Tech KYT team-mate, Aiki Iyoshi. The green liveried pairing were the only riders who broke below 2:09 and held off Sepang race two winner Muklada Sarapuech, who joined them on the front row.
Astra Honda’s Awhin Sanjaya was next up, almost half a second off Muklada’s time and was followed by Reynaldo Ratukore, on the best of the Yamahas and Piyawat Patoomyos. Tatchakorn Buasri led the third row from Nazrul Izzat and Lucky Hendriansia.
Asia Production 250 – Race 1
The Bend Motorsport Park will hold a special place in the heart of Andy Fadly. The 19-year-old Indonesian came of age with his first podium in the series at the South Australian circuit one year ago and scored his first win there today.
Manual Tech KYT’s Fadly was pushed all the way by his rookie team-mate, Aiki Iyoshi and AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech. These three left the rest of the field trailing and provided edge-of-the-seat entertainment for the full nine laps of race one.
In the end a slight mistake by Muklada was enough for the two Kawasakis to cross the line just ahead of her. More than 10 seconds further back, Tatchakorn Buasri was fourth from Rey Ratukore and Piyawat Patoomyos. Irfan, Muzzakir, Izzat and Sethu Rajiv completed the top ten.
Fadly’s win followed two second places in Round 1 and gave him a points haul of 65, which is a lead of more than 25 over fifth-placed Awhin Sanjaya. Under new rules tied to the single ECU introduced in 2019, that points advantage meant a cut of 500rpm to Fadly’s rev limit and therefore made Sunday’s Race 2 still more unpredictable.
Asia Production 250 – Race 2
Aiki Iyoshi built upon the promising start he made in Sepang in ARRC round one and an inspired second place behind his team-mate, Andy Fadly in race one to take a convincing win in Race 2.
Pre-race chatter had centred on Fadly, whose win had taken him more than 25 points clear of the fifth-placed rider in the championship standings, thereby triggering a cut of 500rpm in his maximum rev limit under 2019 technical regulations. What effect would that have on the performance of his Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki?
There was no answer in warm-up, as the 19 year-old Indonesian posted the fastest time and no clues were forthcoming in the race, as Fadly highsided out at turn one, lap one.
Fadly’s early exit initially left AP Honda team-mates, Tatchakorn Buasri and Muklada Sarapuech battling for the lead with ONEXOX TKKR’s Yamaha-mounted pairing of Rey Ratukore and Izzat Bahauddin, until Izzat dropped back after an off-track excursion. Iyoshi, Lucky Hendriansya and Irfan Ardiansyah joined the fun at the front.
In the final few laps Iyoshi got himself to the front and engaged Mukalda and Tatchakorn in a contest for first place. As it became clear that the pace of the Kawasaki was beyond the following Hondas, the Japanese rookie consolidated a lead of a few bike lengths as Muklada, despite struggling with a worsening chatter problem, kept unrelenting pressure on the race leader.
The jubilant Japanese took the chequered flag by a margin of more than a second from Muklada, who had a similar gap back to Tatchakorn. Fourth place went to Astra Honda’s Lucky, who had a 4.5 second buffer back to Rey Ratukore, who was again the best of the Yamaha riders. Irfan Ardiansyah was sixth from Awhin Sanjaya, Izzat, Piyawat and Muzakir who was tenth.
Aiki Iyoshi’s maiden win has earned him the championship lead and a cut of 500rpm in his rev limit, as his points total of 68 is 30 points clear of Awhin in fifth position. With three long straights at Buriram, the answer to the question about the effect of the new rule should become clear in round three.
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