2020 Asia Road Racing Championship
Big AP250 changes point to wide-open title fight
With Barry Russell
Predictions for the AP250 are practically impossible, with big gaps in team announcements and some top riders moving up to Supersport.
After much off-season uncertainty, it was confirmed last week that Manual Tech Kawasaki will return with their 2019 pairing of reigning champion Andy Fadly and Aiki Aiyoshi. That makes Fadly only the second AP 250 champion to defend his title.
Indonesia’s Astra Honda have announced three riders again, with Lucky Hendriansyah now leading the line, chased by class rookies, Herjun Atna Firdaus and Adenanta Putra.
With Muklada Sarapuech moving to the 600s, AP Honda Racing Thailand keep the promising Piyawat Patoomyos and bring in rookie, Kantapat Yakantai. Piyawat scored his first class win in the very last race of 2019 and has been tasked with breaking Indonesia’s stranglehold on the championship.
ONEXOX TKKR SAG are fielding three entries, keeping frontrunners, Muzakkir Mohamed and Rey Ratukore and bringing in Syafieq Aiman.
Rafid Topan Sucipto is a potential title winner who has yet to make an announcement. His fans will be hoping to see him on the Bike Corner Honda once again, which transformed his 2019 season following his switch from Yamaha.
Anggi Setiawan is in again for Yamaha Indonesia, joined this year by Wahyu Nugroho, one of the most exciting Underbone riders we saw in 2019. Although he managed only one podium appearance, Nugroho’s speed is beyond doubt and he should grow as an all-round racer in AP250.
Yamaha Thailand will not have any AP250 entries this year. For now, the team is delegating young rider development to satellite outfit, Yamaha HiSpeed, which is expected to run wildcards at selected races. The team made their mark in the last race of the season, when Vorapong Malahuan brought his banana-yellow R25 through to second place behind AP Honda’s Piyawat.
Turning to some of the sport’s emerging countries in the region, the highly rated Cao Viet Nam joins the class for another year. The 2019 Thailand Talent Cup champion clearly has the ability to run at the front, so will be hoping for the full support of Honda Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Honda India are going for continuity with Sethu Rajiv and Senthil Chandrasekaran and Victor Racing bring in Chinese rider, Leong Nang Tse.
Finally, and as widely expected, Indian motorcycle giant TVS is in for 2020. The company’s racing division put a large toe in the water at Buriram last December, when they contracted World Supersport star Hikari Okubo to take the Apache 310RR for a spin in the final round. What they learned there will be taken forward by Vorapong Malahuan.
The popular Thai has a bagful of AP 250 trophies from several seasons with AP Honda and it’s hard to think of a more capable development rider. There are plenty of challenges for the mono-powered machine, such as rear wheel locking and chassis and suspension development, but there is no doubting the commitment and resources of TVS, so we should see their results on an upward curve during the season.
2019 AP250 Standings – Top 15
|1||Andy Muhammad Fadly||INA||214|
|6||Reynaldo Christiano Ratukore||INA||126|
|11||Muhammad Faerozy Toreqqotullah||INA||86|
|12||Md Muzakkir Mohamed||MAS||75|
|13||Nazirul Izzat Mohd Bahauddin||MAS||52|
|14||Cao Viet Nam||VIE||50|
Late announcements leave pieces missing in UB150 jigsaw
Underbone racing fans know that this is a class apart. While many racers from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand go on to international fame and fortune from Underbones, for many more, racing these hopped-up family bikes is what they end up doing for a living.
The ARRC Underbone 150 class is the pinnacle of Underbone racing and a place where we get to see a mixture of young, ambitious teenagers fight it out with fast, clever riders, who are in some cases, older than their parents. It provides heart-stopping on-track competition that thrills and fascinates fans from far beyond the geographical limits of South East Asia.
While much of the interest comes straight from the intensity of the racing, Underbones also evoke a gone and golden age of racing, when you would buy a street machine, strip it, add the lightest, trickest parts you can find and tune the engine to breaking point.
UMA Racing Yamaha (Philippines), which took the 2019 championship with McKInley Kyle Paz, return with Fernando Masato, who won race two in the first round, and the highly-rated Kerwin Chang.
Meanwhile, UMA Racing Yamaha (Malaysia) are back in with former champion Akid Aziz and Haziq Fairues, who gave notice of his potential last season by taking his first victory in round six at Sepang. Akid finished just two points behind McKinley in 2019, after two DNFs from mechanical failures in the final round.
Wawan Wello, who was in title contention until a foul run of luck at the end of 2019, has re-signed for SND Factory Racing. The team, which has parted company with former double champion, Gupita Kresna, also announced the signing of rookie, Hildan Kusuma.
Gupita himself, who was has been dogged by a mix of bad luck and inconsistency in the past two seasons, joins Philippines outfit 41SM, where he will run together with John Emerson Inguito. It should be a good match – 41SM has strong domestic underbone credentials and the Indonesian’s experience and quality should help the team step up to international competition and enable him to set his sights on a third title.
Team One for All keeps its rider line-up for 2020, with another former champion, Malaysia’s Affendi Rosley and Thailand’s Peerapong Luiboonpeng. The pair will once again be making their presence felt under the watchful eye of 125 GP legend and team owner, Youichi Ui.
ONEXOX TKKR SAG is fielding a mix of established and emerging talent. Indonesian double champion, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana and the evergreen, ever-threatening Ahmad Fazli Sham are joined by Hafiza Rofa, who proved himself as a front-runner in 2019 and newcomer, Faiz Zekri.
Aldi Satya Mahendra, the youngest rider in the class at 13, and who sensationally won a wet race two at Suzuka in 2019, will be flying the flag for Yamaha Indonesia. He is sure to cause plenty more upsets for senior riders this season.
Cardinals Racing Malaysia brings in two new riders, Fazrul Sham and Iqbal Amri from the Petronas Cub Prix talent pool for 2020.
RCB Yamaha YY Pang Racing are fielding three riders with Vietnam’s To Ha Dong Nghi joining regular frontrunners, Izzat Zaidi and Adib Rosley.
Proliner RCB 549 Kaboci Racing Team also have a three rider team, with Richard Taroreh, Iswandi Muis and Aldy Taufil.
Conspicuous by their absence are UMA Racing Yamaha’s 2018 champion, Akid Aziz and team mate Haziq Fairues. The duo just missed out to McKInley Kyle Paz in 2019, finishing second and third in the standings and it is hoped they will squeeze themselves onto the entry list within the next few days.
2019 UB150 Standings – Top 15
|1||McKinley Kyle Paz||PHI||121|
|2||Md Akid Aziz||MAS||119|
|3||Md Haziq Md Fairues||MAS||113|
|4||Wahyu Aji Trilaksana||INA||110|
|5||Ahmad Fazli Sham||MAS||106|
|6||Aldi Satya Mahendra||INA||96|
|9||Richard Richie Taroreh||INA||78|
|10||Md Affendi Rosli||MAS||72|
|13||Md Amirul Ariff Musa||MAS||65|
|14||Md Faiz Zekri Sabri||MAS||60|
|15||Rozaiman Md Said||MAS||54|
2020 Asia Road Racing Championship Calendar
- Pre-Season Test – Sepang International Circuit, MALAYSIA – March 2–4, 2020
- Round 1 – Sepang International Circuit, MALAYSIA – March 6–8, 2020
- Round 2 – The Bend Motorsports Park, AUSTRALIA – May 7–10, 2020
- Round 3 – Suzuka Circuit, JAPAN – June 26–28, 2020
- Round 4 – Zhuhai International Circuit, CHINA – July 24–26, 2020
- Round 5 – Chang International Circuit, THAILAND – August 21–23, 2020
- Round 6 – Sepang International Circuit, MALAYSIA – September 25–27, 2020
- Round 7 – Chang International Circuit, THAILAND – November 27–29, 2020