It was a rough and tumble weekend in Malaysia for Broc Parkes in Round One of the 2020 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC). The 39-year-old from Hunter Valley did a decent job in pre-season testing on Monday and Tuesday, but had to contend with an on-form Markus Reiterberger, whose pace on the 2020 BMW S 1000 RR was out of reach on a dry track, as well as a rapid Ducati mounted Italian and the usual leading lights of the Asian series.
He also knocked himself around by hitting the deck twice during practice and qualifying before high-siding out of a likely second place in a wet race one. He redeemed the opening weekend by toughing it out for third place in race two on Sunday.
Partnering the popular Yuki Ito again in Yamaha Racing Team ASEAN, Broc maintained a position as one of the best of the rest through free practice and qualifying, which, in empirical terms, meant around one second behind the German BMW exponent. Broc’s 2019 championship nemesis, and Reiterberger’s ONEXOX TKKR SAG team-mate, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, had yet to click with the new Beemer and was another second adrift.
As it has all around the world, concerns about the new corona virus winnowed entries in all but the underbone class. The most significant Asia Superbike absentee was Malaysian, Zaqhwan Zaidi, whose Honda Asia Dream Racing by Showa team decided not to make the trip from Japan, which also took out his class rookie team-mate, Gerry Salim. The two red BMWs of the China Racing Team were understandably missing, as was Victor Racing’s Li Zheng Peng.
Honda Asia Dream’s decision was part of what appeared to be a voluntary recommendation by Honda not to send factory supported teams to Sepang. That took out AP Honda’s four entries in the Supersport 600 and Asia Production 250 classes and Astra Honda’s two 600 and three 250 riders.
As it turned out, the absences were notable, but did not stop close battles from being waged in all categories. Global pandemics notwithstanding, ARRC Round Two will be at The Bend Motorsports Park on May 7-10th in Australia, where it will again share a double-billing with ASBK.
Asia Superbike: Reiterberger makes his mark
We didn’t have to wait long to find out how a decent World Superbike rider would fare ARRC’s competitive cauldron. Markus Reiterberger – who alongside Tom Sykes, rode a BMW S 1000 RR for Shaun Muir Racing in 2019 – followed up a lap record breaking performance in pre-season testing at Sepang with a dominant performance in Friday’s free practice for round one.
The German, who turns 26 this week, looked at ease aboard the ONEXOX TKKR BMW, topping all three sessions by more than six tenths. His best time was 2’04.950, set midway through FP1.
The chase was led at different times by Kawasaki Thailand’s Thitipong Warakorn, Yamaha Racing ASEAN’s Broc Parkes and Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon, who ended up second on the day, with a best time of 2’05.764 in FP3, more than eight tenths adrift of Markus. Broc put in a good day’s work to finish third on combined times, with a lap of 2’05.928.
The only other rider to get into the 2’05s and therefore within a second of Markus, was Lorenzo Zanetti, on the Access Plus Racing Okada Ducati Panigale. Standing in for Frederico Sandi, Zanetti, who is an official Ducati test rider, finished just ahead of Thitipong, Yuki Ito and defending champion Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, who lagged his new team-mate by 1.810s to end up seventh.
ASB debutant, Anuparb Sarmoon, made a good account of himself to finish the day eighth for Yamaha Thailand, while Kawasaki Thailand’s class rookie, Ryosuke Iwato and Access Plus Okada’s TJ Alberto completed the top ten.
ASB Qualifying and Race 1
During Saturday morning qualifying, the pattern of pre-season testing and free practice repeated, with nobody able to get within striking distance of the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW of Markus Reiterberger, who claimed pole position with a lap of 2’04.762.
Broc Parkes got to within 1.4 seconds of the German to put himself second from Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon, who always seems to qualify on the front row. Broc’s team-mate, Yuki Ito was fourth, to lead the second row from the Access Plus Ducati of Lorenzo Zanetti.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was seventh, ahead of Thitipong Warakorn. The Thai rider had his session disrupted when he crashed on water that had seeped onto the track at Turn 4. The incident brought out the red flag and there was a lengthy delay while marshals mopped and dried the surface.
As it often does, an electric storm hit Sepang later in the afternoon, causing a delay of around 45 minutes to the start of the race.
With racing on a wet track being a new experience for the 2020 BMW, the possibility of Markus being beaten began to look realistic. He got away at the front, but, ominously, Yuki Ito tucked in behind him and snatched the lead midway round lap one. Meanwhile, Apiwat was well-placed in third, just ahead of Broc, who went through at turn 15 and then passed Markus for second.
By lap three out of 12, Yuki had found his rhythm and was three seconds clear at the front. Markus ran wide and Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat and Anuparb Sarmoon went through to third and fourth. Some five seconds further back, Lorenzo was battling with Farid Badrul and Azlan for sixth place, while Thitipong looked unhappy further back in tenth.
By half distance the race was looking settled, with Yuki hitting his marks smoothly and stretching his lead every lap. In contrast Broc was having to fend off the advances of a determined Apiwat, with both machines twitching and threatening to spit off their riders at every turn.
These two were well clear of Anuparb, who was making a very respectable debut. Broc succumbed to Apiwat’s pressure on lap 11, going over the highside of his R1 and snapping his handlebars, to register a highly undesirable DNF.
Despite a leisurely trundle from turn 15 to the chequered flag, Yuki crossed the line 7.6 seconds ahead of Apiwat and Anuparb, who was 15 seconds behind his Yamaha Thailand team-mate. Markus came in a safe fourth from Zanetti, Azlan and Badrul.
ASB Race 2
Storm clouds that had again looked threatening during the afternoon began to disperse as the Asia Superbike grid formed for race two.
Sitting on pole position, ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Markus Reiterberger looked a lot more relaxed than he had 24 hours earlier for Saturday’s wet race, next to Yamaha Racing ASEAN’s Broc Parkes, who was feeling sore after high-siding out of second position in race one. Despite the setbacks, the Australian was determined to get the start of his ARRC season launched with a degree of success.
utside him, Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon, who had hounded Broc the previous day and then benefited from the previous day’s crash, set his sights on another strong result.
Markus checked out at the start, pulling a few lengths clear as he got to the first corner. Broc was the best of the rest for a few corners until he got mugged by Apiwat, who fancied his chances of chasing down the German at the front. More discomfort followed for the Hunter Valley man, as he found himself under pressure from Yamaha Thailand’s Anuparb Sarmoon and Access Plus Okada Ducati’s Lorenzo Zanetti.
Kawasaki Thailand’s Thitipong Warakorn was next, with race one winner, Yuki Ito and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman completing a group of seven. On lap three, Lorenzo, who had predicted a podium finish, moved past Anuparb and Apiwat into second.
With half the 12-lap race done, Markus was 6.8 seconds clear and Lorenzo and Apiwat made up the provisional podium from Anuparb and Broc. Then Azlan seemed to finally gell with the 2020 Beemer and made his way through the group and up into second from Apiwat and Lorenzo. Anuparb crashed out of contention on lap seven.
With two laps left, a mistake by Azlan saw him hit the floor, while Broc and Thitipong, who had also taken a few knocks during the weekend got a lot more serious about their finishing positions. Broc moved onto the back of a twitchy-looking Ducati, but was unable to find a way past until the Italian appeared to miss a gear as he charged out of turn 15 towards the finish line. Broc narrowly avoided rear-ending him and took third place behind Markus and Apiwat. Zanetti came through to fourth in front of Thitipong and Yuki.
Apiwat’s brace of second places means that he leaves Sepang atop the standings with 40 points to Markus’s 38. Yuki lies third on 35 from Zanetti (24) and Thitipong (18). Broc’s DNF and third place finish put him sixth and level on points with Anuparb.
PACHI ZK Racing’s Adam Norrodin, one of the few stars left from the class of 2019, managed to stay ahead in free practice on Friday, finishing 0.163 clear on combined times.
The big surprise of the day came from Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Azroy Hakeem Anuar and Helmi Azman. The seven-year-old CBR 600RR was eclipsed throughout 2019 by Yamaha’s YZF R6, but the two Hondas found enough speed to keep Adam at the top of his game.
Honda’s corona virus policy meant that AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech and Passawit Thitiwararak and Astra Honda’s Irfan Adriansyah and Rheza Danica Ahrens were missing, leaving just the two Malaysians to fly the flag.
Azroy just ended up second from Helmi, followed by Afif Amran, who continued to impress. This year he’s aboard the GEN BLU Yamaha, partnering Philippine ‘wonder boy’ McKinley Kyle Paz.
Afif finished the day fourth from Soichiro Minamimoto, Ibrahim Norrodin, who was almost eight tenths off his big brother’s time, Ratthapong Wilairot and Ramdan Rosli, who was eighth. 2019 Underbone champion McKinley did well with the extra 450cc to end up eleventh on 2’11.482.
SS600 Qualifying and Race 1
In the morning qualifying session, the first two rows were decided in the closing two minutes. After leading much of the session, Helmi crashed with four minutes remaining, allowing first Soichiro Minamimoto, then Afif Amran to push him onto the second row.
Seconds later Adam moved into first, then Ratthapong put in his best lap to get within a tenth of Adam and Ibrahim did the same to put himself on the outside of the front row. Afif, Minamimoto and Helmi made up the second row, in that order.
At the race start, Adam got a perfect launch from pole position, to lead all the way round the first lap until he went wide at the final corner to let Helmi and Afif past. The Pachi rider scrambled back through to the lead on lap two, followed by Helmi and Azroy, who had taken third from Afif.
Ratthapong had made a poor start from the front row and was back in fifth, fending off Soichiro Minamimoto and Ibrahim Norrodin. By lap four, Adam and Helmi had got themselves clear of Afif and Azroy, who were disputing third position, as the rest of the field slipped back.
On lap six, Azroy and Afif closed the one second gap to Helmi and Adam, who was another one second up the road, made an unforced error two laps later and low-sided himself out of the lead. He got straight back up, leaving plumes of gravel and dust in his wake, to rejoin in ninth, behind class debutant, McKinley Kyle Paz.
As the dust settled, Azroy slipped past his team-mate, pulling Afif with him, who engaged Helmi for second and then took it cleanly. Chasing hard behind them was Ibrahim, who reduced his deficit to one second by the start of the last lap. Within two corners he was onto the back of Helmi’s Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda.
With nothing between these four, it came down the final turn 15. Azroy hung onto his lead by just five hundredths from Afif while, three tenths behind them, Ibrahim nudged Helmi off the podium by eight hundredths.
More than 11 seconds further back, Soichiro Minamimoto brought his Akeno Speed Yamaha through to a lonely fifth place, a long way clear of his team-mate, Yusuke Nakamura. Adam recovered to seventh after just getting ahead of McKinley’s Gen Blu Yamaha at the line.
SS600 Race 2
A problem with the front of Ramdan Rosli’s Yamaha left him in his pit box for the start of Race 2, which saw Adam Norrodin and Azroy Anuar get away into turn one. Then things got crazy, when Soichiro Minamimoto’s yellow Akeno Speed Yamaha tangled with the blue R6 of Ratthapong Wilairot, bringing them both down heavily on the entrance to the first turn.
A few seconds later, Afif and his GEN BLU Yamaha lost the front and had a nasty egg-beater of a tumble through the gravel and then Rei Toshima had a similar crash. Both incidents destroyed the machines, battered the riders and showed why motorcycle racers prefer tarmac run-off to gravel traps.
Inevitably the red flag came out and TV viewers were treated to an impressive display of spannering by Akeno Speed, as they successfully rebuilt Minamimoto’s bike in around ten minutes.
The race distance was reduced from ten to eight laps and the delay meant that Ramdan was able to join the grid. Adam again got away first, but too much time with his front wheel in the air enabled Ratthapong to get in front at turn one. The Idemitsu Boon Siew Hondas of Helmi Azman and Anuar Azroy were in close pursuit, followed by Ibrahim Norrodin, Minamimoto and Ramdan.
Adam got past Ratthapong on the second lap, closely followed by Azroy, who continued on into the lead. By half of the reduced race distance it was Adam from Azroy and Ibrahim, with Helmi pushing hard to stay in contact and punishing his tyres spectacularly in the process.
With two laps remaining, Ibrahim made it a brotherly 1-2 from a determined Azroy, as his team-mate dropped two seconds back. At the final turn Adam got in and out cleanly, while Azroy went for a tight inside line, catching out Ibrahim, who clattered into him and went down. The Boon Siew rider stayed shiny side up and blasted to the line to take second place and the championship lead, after his race one win, while Helmi happily took his first supersport podium.
Five seconds further back, Ratthapong won a three-way battle for fourth over Ramdan and Minamimoto and McKinley Kyle Paz capped a promising inaugural weekend in the class with seventh in front of Soto Furuyama, Victor Racing’s Ahmad Yudhistira and fellow Filipino, Troy Cua Alberto, who completed the top ten.
Azroy’s first and second places give him 45 points and an 11 point lead over Adam, who’s on 34. Helmi is third, with 29.
Defending Asia Production 250 champion, Andy Fadly, had to keep Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda’s class rookie, Izam Ikmal at bay in order to stay on top at Sepang during Friday’s three free practice sessions. With a total of five championship contenders missing from Thailand’s AP Honda and Indonesia’s Astra Honda, due to Covid-19 travel policies, the field was reduced to 14 machines. Honda India was also missing.
On combined times, Izam split the Motul Manual Tech Kawasakis of Fadly and Aiki Iyoshi. ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Muzakkir Mohamed was fourth ahead of Idlan Haqmi Raduan, Anggi Setiawan and Vorapong Malahuan.
Vorapong, who collected armfuls of AP 250 trophies as an AP Honda rider, is now leading India’s TVS racing project. He did well aboard the single-cylinder Apache 310RR, ending up just over two seconds adrift of Fadly and two seconds clear of team-mates, Jagan Kumar and KY Ahmed.
AP 250 Qualifying and race one
Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda were serious when they said they came into the AP250 class to promote young Malaysian riders. On Saturday, one of their rookie riders, Idlan Haqimi Raduan, starting from 11th on the grid, came through to take his first win by one thousandth of a second from Motul Manual Tech Kawasaki’s Aiki Iyoshi and his own team-mate, Izam Ikmal. You read that right. The margin of victory was too small for the unassisted human eye to discern, so race direction ruled on a photo finish.
Despite the absence of the AP Honda and Astra Honda teams, the benchmark presented by Andy Fadly and Aiki Iyoshi, left no doubt as to the pedigree Boon Siew riders’ pedigree.
From his lowly grid slot, Idlan worked his way up to the leading group by lap two and kept himself in contention. With Andy Fadly expected to open his title defence with a win, the race was blown open on the final lap, when the Indonesian lost his gear lever.
With the rest of the field some 10 seconds adrift, Fadly’s misfortune left Iyoshi, Izam and Idlan to fight for the podium order. Idlan got out of the final corner first, but the power of Iyoshi’s Kawasaki brought him level at the line, leaving officials with the photo finish decision, which went in favour of an emotional rookie. Fadly nursed his bike across the line in 13th place.
There was an intriguing battle behind them between Wahyu Nugroho, Shahrol Syazras Yuzy, Vorapong Malahuan, Rey Ratukore and Syafieq Aiman. What was remarkable about it was that Vorapong, charged with helping TVS with their R & D, managed to put the single cylinder Apache 310RR among such established machine and rider combinations and take sixth place.
AP 250 Race two
Andy Fadly put the previous day’s mechanical failure behind him to ride a ferociously fast, clean race to victory on Sunday. In doing so he led his Motul Manual Tech Kawasaki team-mate, Aiki Iyoshi to a one-two in front of Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda’s Izam Iqmal.
A crash at the beginning of lap two by race one winner, Idlan Raduan, who pushed a touch too much in his charge through from 11th on the grid, left these three with an advantage at the front that increased by more than two seconds a lap for the full eight lap contest.
Izam, who had been pushing the Kawasakis hard throughout the weekend, continued the job through to Sunday, briefly snatching the lead and riding the wheels off his Honda.
There was another intriguing tussle in the second group, with the Yamahas of Wahyu Nugroho, Anggi Setiawan, Rey Ratukore and Muzakkir Mohammed finding themselves being hassled by Thailand’s Vorapong Malahuan, who was riding another inspired race for Indian motorcycle giant, TVS.
At the chequered flag, Wahyu took fourth place by 0.4s from Vorapong, whose single-cylinder Apache 310RR, showed plenty of grunt on the drag from turn 15 to the line. Behind him, Anggi was fifth from Muzakkir, Syafieq Aiman Fauzi, Danial Syhami and Rey.
His two second places mean that Iyoshi leads the championship with 40 points from Izam (32) and Fadly (28)
After a disappointing couple of seasons, Indonesia’s double Underbone champion, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana, flashed his contender’s credentials in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at Sepang, finishing half a second clear of the rest, with a time of 2’31.358.
Another former champion, Malaysia’s Akid Aziz, had shown his class in the morning’s free practice sessions, but was well off his earlier pace during qualifying to finish seventh on 2’32.862. Richie Taroreh qualified second from Ahmad Fazli Sham, younger brother, Ahmad Fazrul Sham and Peerapong Luiboonpeng. Haziq Fairues pipped his UMA team-mate Akid by less than a tenth to qualify sixth.
The first 15 grid positions were determined in Saturday morning’s Superpole contest. Fazrul Sham took pole from Wahyu Aji and Iqbal Malek. Izzat Zaidi, who had been the last rider to make the qualifying cut, was fourth, from Akid and Thailand’s Peerapong Luiboonpeng.
UB 150 Race 1
ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Wahyu Aji Trilaksana put two barren seasons behind him on Saturday, by following up strong practice and qualifying performances with a clever win in race one.
Starting from the middle of the front row, the Indonesian rider kept his Yamaha at or near the front of the pack for the full six lap race. Last time around, he attempted to break away, only to find himself sucked back into the mono-powered peloton.
Holding onto his lead, Wahyu hugged the inside line at turn 15 and held a slim advantage of 45 hundredths of a second at the finish from Cardinals Racing’s pole man, Fazrul Sham and Team One for All’s Peerapong.
The first three were followed by a veritable who’s who of underbone racing, including fourth-placed Akid Aziz, who was followed by Wawan Wello, Richie Taroreh, Ahmad Fazli Sham, Haziq Fairues and Fernando Masato.
UB 150 Race 2
Ahmad Fazli Sham, one of ARRC’s favourite campaigners, won another nail-biting underbone race on Sunday. On this occasion we were treated to two brothers on the podium, as Fazrul came through to third, just behind RCB Yamaha YY Pang’s Izzat Zaidi.
Fazrul got away cleanly from pole, chased by race one winner, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana, Fazli, Richie Taroreh, Akid Aziz, Iqbal Abdul Malex, Fernando Masato, Haziq Fairues, Peerapong and Gupita.
At the end of lap two Wahyu Aji went down at turn 15 with Fernando and Iqbal. Meanwhile, John Inguito, Izzat Zaidi and Aldi Satya Mehandra worked their way into the leading group of 14. The last corner was close fought, but clean, which saw Fazli go in first and come out first for the win, one tenth ahead of Izzat and Fazrul. Muhammad Hildan took fourth in front of Inguito, Haziq, Aldi Satya and Gupita Kresna.
Fazrul leaves Sepang at the top of the table on 36 point, two ahead of Fazli, while Wahyu Aji is third on 25.
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