ASB 1000 championship leader, Broc Parkes, knew the heat would be on for Round 6 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship at Sepang. As the home race for his two main title rivals, Zaqhwan Zaidi and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, keeping them at bay for two races was always going to be a big ask.
With Loris Baz as his stand-in for YART in the 2019/20 Bol d’Or, the Australian was giving his full attention to consolidating and building on his 188 points total – and the 35 point lead over Zaqhwan – that he took to Malaysia.
Asia Superbike Free Practice
Two Malaysian riders on very different bikes and with very different styles took control of free practice. It was the smooth riding Zaqhwan on the Honda Asia Dream with Showa SP2 who ended up quickest on combined times after stopping the clock at 2:06.502 in Friday’s final session. Meanwhile, the hard charging Azlan on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW led FP1 and FP2 and recorded his best time of 2:06.665 early in the day’s final session.
Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon impressed again and was placed third ahead of championship leader, Broc whose best time was 2:06.919. Ahmad Yudhistira took the privateer Victor Racing Yamaha to a strong fifth in front of lap record holder, Thithipong Warakorn, who was battling flu as well as his back injury. Yuki Ito had a quiet day by his standards and ended up seventh.
Italian wildcard, Frederico Sandi, made an excellent debut on the third Access Plus Racing Ducati, recording a best lap of 2:08.266 to end up eighth in front of team regular, TJ Alberto. Thitipong’s Kawasaki Thailand team-mate, Chaiwichit Nisakul, was tenth on 2:08.719, while Yamaha Thailand’s Ratthapong Wilairot spent the day lapping in the 2:09s and finished 11th.
Asia Superbike Qualifying
When it got to business time in Saturday morning’s 40 minute qualifying session, Broc put it all together on his Yamaha Racing ASEAN R1 to take pole position with a best lap of 2:06.107, 0.24s better than second placed Azlan and more than half a second quicker than Apiwat, who completed the front row.
Zaqhwan, on 2:06.735 led row two from Yuki Ito and Thitipong, for Kawasaki Thailand. Frederico raised more than a few eyebrows by qualifying seventh, in front of Yudhistira and team-mate, TJ Alberto.
Asia Superbike Race 1
It was the platinum version of Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman who jumped aboard the ONEXOX TKKR BMW at Sepang on Saturday afternoon. The two-times ARRC 600 champion kept himself within striking distance of the front during the frantic early laps, made a decisive move into the lead on lap eight and never looked threatened thereafter.
We were also treated to the first ever sighting of a Ducati leading an ARRC race, thanks to a convincing performance by Italian wildcard, Frederico Sandi on the Access Plus Racing Panigale.
Broc and Azlan had leisurely launches from the grid, while Apiwat scorched away from the outside of the front row to take the lead. Zaqhwan chased him, followed by Sandi and Azlan, Broc and Thitipong. Zaqhwan took the lead into turn one on lap two, but then dumped his Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa SP2 – and his realistic title hopes – into the gravel a few corners later.
Frederico took his Ducati into the lead on lap three and, chased by Apiwat and Azlan, looked comfortable until his Dunlop-munching Panigale made him increasingly wayward from lap seven. Meanwhile, the man flu stricken Thitipong Warakorn, worked his way past Broc onto the rear of the front group as Azlan made his decisive move into the lead. Yuki pulled off the track with a mechanical failure on lap nine.
Thitipong kept pushing and got close enough to Apiwat to make his second place look vulnerable. Azlan made himself comfortable at the front as the two riders behind him, who have a few tales to tell from the Thai championships, locked horns. Thitipong got into second on lap 11 of 12, only for Apiwat to sweep back past him.
However, the Kawasaki Thailand man was not done and, going into the last corner wide and then cutting inside, managed to out-drag the Yamaha to the line by one tenth of a second to finish 1.4 seconds behind Azlan. Broc got the better of Frederico for fourth, leaving Ratthapong Wilairot in sixth, 16 seconds behind the winner and six seconds in front of seventh-placed Chaiwichit Nisakul.
Azlan’s fourth win of the season and Zaqhwan’s DNF put the ONEXOX TKKR SAG pilot into second in the standings on 168 points, 33 behind Broc, whose fourth place lifted his total to 201.
Asia Superbike Race 2
It was doubles all round at Sepang as Azlan Shah chalked his fifth win of the year and a Round 6 double. Thitipong Warakorn and Apiwat Wongthananon sealed braces of seconds and thirds respectively.
The ailing Thitipong shot his ZX-10RR through from row two at the start of the 11 lap race to lead into turn one, chased hard by Apiwat and Broc, who already looked in better shape than he had in race one. Zaqhwan and Azlan, who had made another languid start, led the chase behind the first three.
Zaqhwan soon began to slip back and Frederico Sandi showed that his race one performance had been no fluke by moving his Access Plus Ducati past both Malaysians and Ahmad Yudhistira into fourth place on lap five.
Then Azlan began to move up, passing Frederico, Broc and Apiwat to take second and put Thitipong under pressure. Apiwat stayed close as Azlan went through to take the lead on lap 8, but was unable to get past Thitipong, who was hanging on to the back of the BMW.
Broc remained fourth until lap 10, when Zaqhwan got through. The Honda man almost immediately lost the front, but found his inner Marc Marquez and recovered without losing his track position. Frederico dropped down the order after lap seven, as traction and directional issues again kept him out of contention. Yudhistira lowsided out of the race on lap 10.
Looking nice and comfy on the last lap, Azlan stroked his BMW to win number five in 2019. He crossed the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Thitipong, who just managed to keep Apiwat at bay Zaqhwan finished fourth, while Broc took fifth place just behind him. Yuki, Frederico, Ratthapong, Chaiwichit Nisakul and Ali Adriansyah Rusmiputro completed the top ten.
That means that Broc Parkes will go into the final round at Chang International Circuit on 212 points, 11 ahead of Azlan’s 193. Zaqhwan is now adrift in third place on 166.
Hong Leong Yamaha’s Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin continued the scintillating form he’s been showing in the CEV Moto2 championship and the last ARRC round at Zhuhai by dominating all three free practice sessions on Friday, finishing up with a margin of six tenths at the top. His best time of 2:10.113 was more than a second faster than he managed at round one in early March.
Azroy Hakeem Anuar rode out of his skin on the Musashi Boon Siew Honda to end the day second on 2:10.753, which was two tenths faster than Astra Honda’s Andi Farid Izdihar. Runaway championship leader Peerapong Boonlert had a relatively quiet day, circulating at around one second off the pace to finish fourth, narrowly ahead of Ramdan Rosli. Beginning round six needing just 20 points to keep Kasma’s hands off the big trophy, the Yamaha Thailand man was not taking any chances.
Missing from proceedings was SIC Junior ZK Racing’s Adam Norrodin, who left Zhuhai third in the standings after the first and second places he scored there. He was called up to replace injured Moto 2 rider, Khairul Idham Pawi. Adam was the fourth stand-in for Khairul and in good company, as the three previous replacements on the Petronas Sprinta Kalex had been GP stars, Mattia Pasini, Jonas Folger and Bradley Smith.
Supersport 600 Qualifying
Kasma kept his rhythm in Saturday morning qualifying, breaking the lap record to take pole position with a best time of 2:09.712. He towed Hong Leong Yamaha team-mate, Ahmad Afif Amran along with him to put him second, just seven hundredths slower.
Peerapong did a 2:10.040 to complete the front row, while ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Ramdan Rosli led row two from the Astra Honda of Andi Farid Izdihar and the Musashi Boon Siew Honda of Azroy Hakeem Anuar.
Supersport 600 Race 1
Peerapong Boonlert had a good day at the office. The 21-year-old Thai led most of the race, before easing off to avoid a last lap bare knuckle fight between Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin and Ramdan Rosli. His third place put the title out of Kasma’s reach and Yamaha Thailand broke open a big box of pink 2019 championship tee-shirts.
Kasma got away well, scampering into turn one ahead of Ramdan and Peerapong. Andy Farid crashed out on the first lap, leaving Azroy to lead a Honda-powered four-way fight for fourth in front of Astra Honda’s Rheza Danica Ahrens, AP Honda’s Passawit Thitiwararak and his Musashi Boon Siew Honda running mate, Helmi Azman. Javier Orellana Malloy briefly moved up to join them on the Victor Racing Yamaha.
Peerapong moved into the lead on lap three and looked like he meant it, at one stage stretching his advantage to more than half a second. Ramdan and Kasma heard the alarm bell ringing and closed back up one lap later. With two laps remaining Kasma swept past Ramdan and Peerapong to grab the lead. As they began the tenth and final lap, Ramdan set his sights on Kasma and Peerapong dropped back as the two young Malaysians squared up.
As they came to the final turn, Ramdan went wide and, his R6 squirming on the front brake, switched to the inside of Kasma and got to the line 0.110s ahead while Peerapong cruised home to third place and the 2019 championship 3.5 seconds further back. Azroy held his best of the rest position to take fourth, Helmi narrowly got the better of Passawit for fifth, while Javier was sixth, 19 seconds behind the winner.
With the pressure of winning the championship lifted from his shoulders, it remained to be seen how hard Peerapong would take the fight to Sepang’s home heroes in race two.
Supersport Race 2
With the ARRC Supersport title in the bag, Yamaha Thailand’s Peerapong Boonlert was back to his imperious best for race two. The newly crowned champion absorbed as much pressure as Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin and Ramdan Rosli could pile on and took his eighth win of the year. In the history books, this puts him level with Katsuake Fujiwara’s 2011 record with one round to go, which will be at Peerapong’s home track.
When the red lights went out, Kasma got away well from pole position to lead Peerapong, Azroy and Ramdan. Helmi Azman also made a bright start. Peerapong took a wide line at turn 13, giving himself good drive to slingshot past Kasma into first place at the end of lap one. Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Helmi crashed at the beginning of lap two, but team-mate Azroy kept himself in touch with the three Yamahas at the front, briefly getting in front of Ramdan.
Andi Farid Izdihar was one second back from the leading four and in front of Izam, Afif and Rheza. Meanwhile, Peerapong looked to be back to his early season form: fast, smooth and controlling the race from the front. Azroy hung on doggedly to the three Yamahas in front of him, while, one second further back, Izam got the better of Andi. Another five seconds behind the Astra Honda, Passawit, Amran and Rheza squabbled over seventh.
The front three: Peerapong, Kasma and Ramdan, stayed in formation. On the last lap Kasma closed the gap, got his nose in front and then led the run down to the last corner. Peerapong went in tight, then went around the outside of the Hong Leong Yamaha, getting enough drive off the kerb to get him to the line 32 thousandths in front of Kasma. SIC ZK Racing’s Izam Ikmal was fourth from Azroy, who was again the best of the Honda riders.
The jubilation from Peerapong and the Yamaha Thailand team in pit lane spoke volumes about how much about the pressure of winning the championship had weighed on them during the second half of the season. Their celebrations of this win were demonstrably more joyful than they had been 24 hours earlier, when they sealed the Supersport title for the second year in succession.
The standings are well spread out ahead of the final round. Peerapong has 264 points, Kasma has 183 and Adam Norrodin, who was absent on GP duty, has 125.
AP Honda Racing Thailand’s newest prodigy, Piyawat Patoomyos, showed that his inaugural podium finish in round five at Zhuhai was no fluke by setting the fastest time of 2:25.808 in FP2 on Friday. The Thai youngster, who hadn’t been on the card for round one, hadn’t turned a wheel at the circuit until Friday morning. His team-mate, Muklada Sarapuech, who had set pole position at Sepang in March, was 0.16 slower.
Irfan Ardiansyah, showed again what a threat he is for the 2019 title by slotting into third place in front of Andy Fadly, Rafid Topan Sucipto and his Astra Honda team-mates, Lucky Hendriansiah and Awhin Sanjaya. AP Honda’s Tatchakorn Buasri and Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki’s Aiki Iyoshi were ninth and tenth.
AP 250 Qualifying
Muklada added another Sepang pole position to her resume on Saturday, posting a best lap of 2:25.343, more than two tenths clear of Astra Honda’s Lucky Hendriansya and three tenths faster than Bike Corner SYS KYT’s Rafid Topan Sucipto.
Championship leader Andy Fadly led the second row from Rey Ratukore on his ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha. Piyawat, Awhin Sanjaya and Aiki Iyoshi made up the third row.
AP 250 Race 1
Irfan Ardiansyah once again showed a potent combination of speed and intelligence in race one to take a brilliantly judged first win in one of the best AP250 races of the season.
Muklada Sarapuech got away well from pole, but was out-dragged by Andy Fadly into turn one, who led a nine-strong leading group. Awhin Sanjaya, along with Rafid Topan Sucipto, Lucky Hendriansyah, Piyawat Patoomyos, Irfan Hendriansiah and Rey Ratukore snapped and snarled their way up and down the front bunch. Less than a second separated these nine riders. Fadly ran wide on lap two, but quickly clawed his way back into contention.
On aggregate, AP Honda’s Muklada spent the most time in the lead, while Irfan moved his way closer to the sharp end to join Awhin, Lucky, Rafid and Fadly in the scrap for first place. The Thai rider began the last lap in front and tried hard to break away.
Awhin went with her and the rest of the pack caught up through the technical sections. Irfan made his move as they swept into the penultimate turn, getting good drive and braking into the last corner safely ahead. Behind him, five bikes fanned out in a line.
Piyawat crashed and Muklada, Rafid and Awhin made the dash for the line, finishing within 23 thousandths of a second of each other in that order. Fadly was just a few hundredths further back in fifth, with Lucky close behind. Faerozi Toreqottulah was two seconds further back, finishing in front of Rey, Cao Viet Nam and Sutthipat Patchaeetron, who completed the top ten.
Irfan’s win put him 58 points ahead of Lucky, who was fifth in the standings, so earned himself a second ‘equaliser’ cut of 500rpm from the maximum rev limit for race two. Fadly, Muklada and Awhin were all carrying 500rpm cuts.
AP 250 Race 2
There was trouble before the start for Izzat Nazirul Bauhauddin, as his ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha was pushed off the grid as the field was about to set off on the warm-up lap. The team fixed the bike, but Izzat had to start from pit lane.
AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech was the last rider to settle into her grid position and was first away from pole as the field tore down to turn one. Andy Fadly quickly got past and led the way over the line for the start of lap two from Muklada, Awhin, Iyoshi, Irfan, Rey Ratukore and Rafid Topan Sucipto. The AP Honda rider reasserted herself to lead the field into lap three, chased by Irfan and Fadly.
Piyawat moved up amongst the contenders on lap three, only to get tangled with two other riders and suffer his second crash of the weekend. The incident opened up the field and Muklada got back to the front.
On lap five Awhin, Lucky and Rey Ratukore moved into contention and these four began to open a gap to Rafid, who led the chase a few bike lengths further back. With two laps remaining, Rafid and Fadly moved back to within striking distance, as Muklada maintained her lead.
As they began the last lap, Muklada, Awhin and Fadly had clear air back to the Rey, but the group soon bunched up again. Rafid went down at the back of the circuit and, as the bikes fanned out under breaking for turn 14, Awhin and Fadly got in front of the Thai rider, who high-sided at the exit to record her fifth DNF of the season. At the line, 48 hundredths of a second separated Awhin and Fadly, and Rey got through to third in front of Astra’s Lucky and Irfan.
In the standings Andy Fadly returns to the top. He and Irfan are equal on 176, but Fadly leads because he has more wins. Awhin Sanjaya is third on 162, while Muklada has 127.
In Friday’s free practice and qualifying sessions, Malaysia’s Akid Aziz put himself ahead of his UMA Racing Yamaha contemporaries from the Philippines – and the rest of the pack – with a stunning qualifying lap of 2:31.701.
The anticipated rivalry between Akid and championship leader McKinley Kyle Paz ended in the second free practice session, when the Filipino went over the high side at the last corner. The resulting ankle injury left Kyle Paz sidelined for qualifying and under the chief medical officer’s scrutiny ahead of Saturday’s race one.
SND Factory Racing’s Wawan Wello, who suffered two DNFs at Zhuhai, made his intentions clear by posting the second best time of the day, albeit more than a second off Akid’s time. Team One for All’s Peerapong Luiboonpeng was third ahead of the ever-present veteran, Ahmad Fazli Sham, on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha.
Gupita Kresna was the last rider to make the cut for Saturday morning’s Superpole, which would determine the top 15 grid positions. Australian teenager, Travis Hall, had missed round five in China, but returned to the Hi Rev SCK team in Sepang. He qualified 29th.
Underbone 150 Race 1
UMA Racing Yamaha’s Akid Aziz put his championship quality on display in race one, following up the previous day’s qualifying lap record by winning the superpole competition and race one. McKinley Kyle Paz was cleared to race, but had to start from the 35th and last position on the starting grid.
Lining up alongside Izzat Zaidi and Haziq Fairues on the front row, Akid tracked Izzat’s red Yamaha from the start, which fell back through the pack after a good early showing. As the leading swarm shuffled itself into the final turn, Akid came through at the front to win from ONEXOX TKKR’s Wahyu Aji Trilaksana and Rozaiman Said. Travis finished 24th.
The injured McKinley Kyle Paz carved his way through to sixth to keep himself within reach of the title. The Filipino was second with 105 points, 11 behind Akid.
Underbone 150 Race 2
A wide-open Race 2 was anticipated, after Race 1 winner and championship leader, Akid Aziz, was handed a ride through penalty for kicking out at Aldi Satya Mahendra on Saturday. His title rival, McKinley Kyle Paz, was again starting from 35th place.
Akid, with his penalty in mind, got away fast from pole position to lead the drag into turn one. Jousting around the opening lap with Fernando Masato, Affendi Rosli, Izzat Zaidi and UMA team-mate Haziq Fairues, Akid went straight on into pit entry at the final turn to take his punishment early. He rejoined the race behind Kyle Paz, who was already making his way through the field.
As now seems inevitable, 13-year-old Aldi got closer and closer to the front as the six lap race progressed. SND Factory had a miserable race, with Gupita Kresna crashing and Wawan Wello breaking down. Haziq looked stronger and more comfortable than the others at the front, getting into the last corner first and well ahead of the chaos behind as four riders went down in the braking zone.
He got to the chequered flag in front of ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Faiz Zekri Sabri and Aldi, who claimed another podium. Team One for All’s Peerapong Luiboonpeng led the next group over the line, with Izzat Zaidi and Aiman Azman on his tail. Akid recovered to finish 13th, while Kyle Paz came through to 10th. Travis Hall finished in 23rd.
Akid Aziz now leads the standings with 119 points from McKinley Kyle Paz, who has 111. Haziq moves up to third, with 98, while Aldi is fourth on 81.
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