Broc Parkes had another successful weekend on Asia Superbike duty for Yamaha Racing ASEAN at a baking hot Zhuhai International Circuit, situated just across the Chinese border with Macao.
The endurance racing exponent built on the 27-point lead he took into ARRC round five with a fourth place and a win, to leave with a 35 point lead over Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa’s Zaqhwan Zaidi. From 10 starts in the series, Broc has finished every race, notching up three wins, four podiums, two fourths and a fifth. Championship winning form, indeed.
There was one other high profile Australian on the entry list at Zhuhai. Mark Aitchison, who lives in China and competes in the national superbike series, was one of six wildcards to join ARRC’s premier class this season. Other noteables included Lee Zheng Peng and Canadian street racer, Dan Kruger.
In a region sometimes referred to as China’s Gold Coast because of its immaculate beaches, parks and modern, luxury accommodation, Zhuhai’s summer weather was hotter than usual due to a passing typhoon.
Teams and officials arriving from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore were all shocked by the intense, dry heat they had to contend with for all three days of competition, despite early forecasts of rain.
The 2019 championship has widely been viewed as a contest between the consistency of Parkes and the mercurial brilliance of Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, who began round five in second position in the standings, but the story ran much deeper than that.
Zhuhai International Circuit, with its long straights and tight corners is a fairly simple, stop-go track with plenty of mechanical and physical challenges. It’s 4.3 kilometres long and runs clockwise with nine right and five left turns.
It had been seven years since ARRC had visited Zhuhai, so track knowledge was effectively neutralised. Broc and Zaqhwan were the first and fastest to acclimatize. Zaqhwan won the game of cat and mouse between the two in each of the three sessions, posting a best time of 1:34.482 in FP2 to Broc’s 1:32.530.
Broc’s indomitable team-mate, Yuki Ito, was third on combined times, just nine thousandths slower than the Australian. Azlan was fourth fastest, though more than half-a-second adrift of Yuki and Li Zheng Peng was fifth from Thitipong Warakorn, who was appearing for the first time since round one following a near career ending crash back in March when he crashed as a WSBK wildcard and was run over by Leon Camier.
Broc managed to turn the tables on Zaqhwan in Saturday morning’s 40 minute qualifying session. On his last flying lap he became the only rider to dip under 1:34, stopping the clock at 1:34.994, 0.037s quicker than Zaqhwan. Azlan lopped almost a second off his best free practice time, to put himself into the frame with a 1:34.258.
Yuki led row two from Thitipong and Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat Wongthananon. The third row was Ratthapong Wilairot, Mark Aitchisonon the YSS China Yamaha and Kawasaki Thailand’s Chaiwichit Nisakul.
Broc wasted his pole position, letting Zaqhwan take the lead and getting passed by Yuki Ito, Thitipong Azlan and Apiwat.
Yuki stuck close to the leader in the early laps, but found himself increasingly under pressure from Thitipong Warakorn, who looked as strong as ever on his comeback, and Azlan, who low-sided out of proceedings on lap seven at turn seven. Just behind them, Parkes kept the pressure on Apiwat before moving through to fourth and tried to catch the front three.
Zaqhwan fast and inch-perfect at the front, stretched his advantage to around a second by mid-distance as Yuki and Thitipong tussled over second. Another sequence of quick laps saw Zaqhwan open up the gap to 1.7 seconds.
Parkes, struggling with front brake and rear grip problems, kept the three riders in front of him in his sights and got clear of Apiwat, but was unable to get close enough to pass Thitipong and settled for fourth, 2.35 seconds behind the winner.
Azlan’s mistake let Zaqhwan through to second in the standings, 23 points behind Broc, whose total moved up to 166. Azlan stayed third, while Yuki moved up one place to fourth.
While air and track temperatures continued to scorch machines and riders on Sunday, there was a very different look to ASB 1000 race two. Broc, who had been out of sorts on Saturday, got his Yamaha Racing ASEAN R1 hooked up perfectly for race two to take a relatively comfortable win.
Zaqhwan meanwhile, who had been peerless in race one, had a real fight on his hands, as Azlan also turned things around after the previous day’s DNF. Yuki Ito followed up his race one P2 with third place after edging Zaqhwan off the podium and Thitipong continued his recovery from injury by finishing fifth, just 2.9 seconds behind the winner.
Zaqhwan got off to a good start, as did Azlan, who looked confident on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW. He harrassed the Honda Asia Dream Racing by Showa rider while keeping Broc, Thitipong, Yuki and Apiwat at bay behind him. Apiwat’s challenge ended on lap three when a fading front brake forced his retirement. Yuki passed Thitipong for fourth and Broc passed Azlan for second.
Broc took the lead on lap five and did what he does best, putting a series of fast, consistent laps together to open a gap of more than a second at the front. Zaqhwan and Azlan grappled for second behind him, shadowed by Yuki and Thitipong.
A forced error by Zaqhwan let Azlan through to second and Yuki through to third. He fought back, briefly recovering to second before running wide again to let Azlan and Yuki through again.
Having open up a lead of 2.5 seconds, Parkes eased up on the last two laps to take the chequered flag by 1.4 seconds from Azlan. A further one second back, Yuki held off Zaqhwan for third and Thitipong followed closely into fifth. Nine seconds behind the Thai Kawasaki, Mark Aitchison was the first of the wildcards home in sixth in front of Ahmad Yudhistira and Ratthapong Wilairot. Kawasaki Thailand’s Chaiwichit Nisakul was ninth and Li Zheng Peng completed the top ten.
It was a good weekend’s work for Broc, finishing fourth when he had problems in race one and taking his third win of the season when everything came together. His tally at the top of the standings is now 188, 35 clear of Zaqhwan and 45 from Azlan. Yuki is now in a solid fourth position with 131 points.
Having demolished and demoralised his rivals with seven wins and a third from eight starts this season, pre-race chatter concerned whether Yamaha Thailand’s Peerapong Boonlert could equal or beat Katsuake Fujiwara’s 600cc class record of eight wins in a season at Zhuhai.
Going into round five, the only rider who seemed to have enough swagger left to challenge the 21-year-old Thai was Hong Leong Yamaha’s Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin, who arrived in China with a recent morale boosting second place finish in the Repsol CEV Moto2 series. His 98 point tally from six starts had netted him 98 points and second place in the standings, albeit 93 behind the leader.
Astra Honda’s Andi Farid Izdihar was third in the standings and the best of the Honda riders. Adam Norrodin, on the SIC Junior ZK Racing Yamaha, had shown flashes of brilliance, but appeared to lack the self-belief needed to convert his talent into meaningful, race long challenges.
The Musashi Boon Siew Honda pairing of Azroy Hakeen Anuar and Helmi Azman were fourth and fifth. On a power circuit like Zhuhai, Honda-mounted Andi, Azroy and Helmi, as well as AP Honda’s Passawit Thitiwararak and Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi, were expecting to find themselves struggling to match the speed of the Yamahas.
The Supersport grid was boosted by six Chinese riders eager to test themselves against Asia’s emerging stars, led by Ma Sai of China Yamaha MAXpeedingrods Racing, who was making his third appearance in 2019, having scored points with 13th and 11th place finishes at Chang International.
Hong Leong Yamaha’s Kasma Daniel made a strong start to the weekend, staying ahead of the pack all day on Friday, to finish with a best time of 1:37.551, which was half a second better than runaway Peerapong.
The championship leader came out on fresh tyres and attacked with less than four minutes on the clock in FP3, clocking his best time of the but was unable match the young Malaysian. Ramdan Rosli was another rider who brought his times down in each session on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha to finish third on 1:38.437.
Andi Farid Izdihar was the best of the Honda riders and ended up fourth on the Astra CBR600 RR less than two tenths slower than Ramdan and a few thousandths ahead of Helmi Azman, who looked to be finding his form on the Musashi Boon Siew Honda.
Qualifying saw ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Ramdan Rosli led most of the session from Peerapong Boonlert. With seven minutes remaining, Kasma shot to the top with a lap of 1:37.437, more than seven tenths clear of Ramdan. Three minutes later, Peerapong, on fresh Dunlops, put in his bid for pole to get within 0.041s of Kasma.
In the final minute, Ramdan and Andi Farid Izdihar dipped into the 1:37s. On his final lap, Kasma shaved another few hundredths from his time to consolidate pole position with 1:37.398. Peerapong and Ramdan stayed second and third, while Andi led row two from Adam Norrodin and Azroy.
Supersport delivered the best race of the season with a race that seemed to signal that Peerapong Boonlert’s run of total dominance was at an end. The championship leader put on a formidable display, but Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin, Adam Norrodin and, for a while, Ramdan Rosli, delivered a clear message that the Thai rider can be matched and beaten.
Kasma made the most of his pole position and looked to be in control of proceedings. Peerapong stayed close and got in front briefly, while Ramdan kept himself in the hunt on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha. Adam Norrodin on the SIC ZK Racing Yamaha and Andi Farid, on the best of the Hondas, disputed fourth place a few bike lengths further back.
The race changed shape after Ramdan stopped when his chain came off and Andi crashed. Adam caught up with the fight between Peerapong and Kasma, surprising his Malaysian contemporary by taking the lead. The last two laps were breathtaking, as the lead changed hands between all three riders. On the final lap it came down to Kasma and Adam, who positioned himself perfectly for the final turn, getting inside Kasma at the exit to take the win by half a wheel; Peerapong was just a tenth behind.
Ahmad Afif Amran had another good race to finish fourth, seven seconds further back, and almost ten seconds clear of Helmi Azman on the Musashi Boon Siew Honda. AP Honda’s Passawit Thitiwararak was sixth from Sha Juntong, the first wildcard home. Victor Racing’s Javier Orellana Malloy was eighth from Ma Sai and Rheza Danica Ahrens, who completed the top ten.
Peerapong’s third place raised his points tally to 207, 89 clear of Kasma, on 118, while Adam was third on 105.
There was a story of revenge and cracking show again from the 600s on Sunday, thanks to another nerve-jangling battle between the three Yamahas of Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin, Adam Norrodin and Peerapong Boonlert.
Kasma converted his pole position to a first lap lead ahead of Peerapong, Andi Farid Izdihar, Adam and Ramdan Rosli, who was sidelined early on to make his weekend literally pointless. Andi made it to half distance before crashing out again. The Astra Honda man made it back to the pits before realising there were only fourteen bikes left, so returned to the race to pick up the single championship point that was going begging.
Peerapong moved into the lead, but Kasma took it back and then Adam relegated the championship leader to third. A battle of pride ensued between the two young Malaysians, which again came down to the last corner.
This time positions were reversed, as Adam, into the turn first, was forced wide by Kasma, who held his line and powered to the chequered flag to complete his revenge and win by 0.075s. Peerapong, who had placed himself perfectly to take advantage of any clash between the two bikes in front of him was just half a bike length back in third.
More than seven seconds further back, Azroy was the first Honda home in front of AP Honda’s Passawit Thitiwararak, Helmi Azman, Rheza Danica Ahrens, Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi, Victor Racing’s Javier Orellana Malloy and Ma Sai, who was tenth and the first of the wildcards.
In the championship tables there remains a mathematical chance of Peerapong not winning the title. He is now on 223 points, a lead of 80 over Kasma with 100 points left on the table in the last four races of 2019. Adam Norrodin is 98 points behind Peerpong on 125.
Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki’s Andy Muhammad Fadly left round four at Suzuka with a 23-point championship lead thanks to a win and a third place. AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech, widely regarded as the young Malaysian’s main title rival, faltered in Japan, coming only fifth in race one and crashing out of contention in race two.
Meanwhile, Astra Honda had mounted their most serious challenge of 2019, with Irfan Ardianyah taking a brace of second places and Awhin Sanjaya winning race two. That left the two Indonesians tied in second place on 104 points, seven ahead of Muklada. Fadly’s team-mate, Aiki Iyoshi, who started the season brightly, had achieved just two sixth place finishes from his last four starts and lay fifth on 88 points.
The AP 250 class, which uses an ARacer control ECU, imposes rev cuts of 500rpm at a time on any rider who gets more than 25 points clear of anyone else in the top five of the standings. Of the three riders – Fadly, Muklada and Iyoshi – carrying ‘first equalisers’ of 500rpm, Fadly seemed the least affected. His speed on the fast sections of Suzuka seemed to indicate that Manual Tech engineers had done some clever mapping to offset the reduction in maximum revs.
On Friday all three Astra Honda riders turned in strong performances. Lucky Hendriansya led the way and was the only rider to break the 1:54 barrier with a best lap in FP3 of 1:53.758. Team-mate, Irfan Adriansiah was next with a 1:54.000 and that was just 16 hundredths quicker than Rafid Topan Sucipto, on the Bike Corner SYS KYT Honda.
Astra’s Awhin Sanjaya was fourth from Anggi Setiawan, who was the best of the Yamaha riders, while AP Honda’s Piyawat Patoomyos was sixth. The hitherto assumed leading championship contenders, Andy Fadly and Muklada Sarapuech were further down the order than usual, with Andy eighth and Muklada still further back after injuring her right leg and left foot in a crash during FP1. She recorded her best time of the day- 1:55.056 in the last session, despite running off-track twice.
Rafid Topan Sucipto built on a good day’s work in free practice to put his Bike Corner SYS KYT Honda on pole position with a late lap of 1:52.626. Andy Fadly came out of his shell after a quiet Friday to put his Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki on the middle of the front row, 0.950 slower than Rafid and 0.710 faster than Astra Honda’s Irfan, who was third. Row two was all red and white, with AP Honda’s Muklada finding herself sandwiched between the Astra Hondas of Awhin and Lucky.
Rafid Topan Sucipto, on his second outing on the Bike Corner SYS KYT Honda, followed up his pole position with a well-judged victory in race one, which saw the first nine bikes cross the line within two seconds.
The 25-year-old Indonesian was hounded all the way by the three Astra Hondas of Awhin Sanjaya, Irfan Adriansiah and Lucky Hendriansyah, as well as by championship leader, Andy Fadly, Muklada Sarapuech and, for a while by ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Rey Ratukore.
Staying mainly within the top four, Rafid grabbed and held the racing line through the final turn to win by just two hundredths from Awhin, with Irfan and Lucky just behind in third and fourth.
Fadly lost touch with the leading Hondas in the later stages of the race and settled for fifth place, half a second ahead of Muklada, who had lost power through a fuelling problem. Piyawat Patoomyos, Rey Ratukore, Tatchakorn Buasri and Nazirul Izzat Bahauddin completed the top ten.
That left Fadly holding onto the championship lead with 138 points, from Awhin’s 124, Irfan’s 120 and Muklada’s 107. The results also meant that Irfan and Awhin earned themselves a rev limit cut of 500rpm for race two.
Rafid Topan Sucipto, in just his second outing on the Bike Corner SYS KYT Honda is on his way back to Indonesia with two winner’s trophies. With doubles usually the preserve of manufacturer supported teams it was an extraordinary achievement by the 25-year-old, who came through a close-fought, incident-packed race two.
Starting from pole position, Rafid kept himself close to the front as he had done on Saturday. Once again, all three Astra Hondas featured in the leading group together, but this time they were joined by all three AP Hondas. For the Thai team, Tatchakorn looked especially strong, Muklada was as fast and aggressive as ever, while Piyawat looked comfortable, just behind his compatriots. Championship leader Fadly began to lose touch with the front group on lap two.
As the 10 lap race progressed it was Irfan, Tatchakorn and Awhin who featured most prominently in the front two or three riders, with Muklada and Rafid also taking turns in the lead as the competition reached boiling point in the last two laps.
Muklada started the final lap in first position, with Irfan, Rafid, Tatchakorn, Piywat, Awhin and Lucky Hendriansiah all within reach of the podium. Muklada ran wide at turn seven, dropping four places and leaving Rafid in the lead from Irfan. As she fought back, she tangled with team-mate Tatchakorn in the final turn, sending both riders down heavily, together with Awhin.
Clear of the chaos behind, Rafid and Irfan crossed the line half a bike length apart in first and second and Piyawat led home those who managed to ride safely around the three stricken Hondas. Lucky was fourth from Rey Ratukore, Anggi Setiawan, Muzakir and Nazirul Izzat Bahauddin. Fadly finished ninth, just holding off Sethu Rajiv and Suttipat Patchaetron.
Irfan’s consistency and a relatively quiet weekend for Fadly means that the Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki rider’s leading points total of 145 is just five ahead of Irfan. Awhin is third on 123 and Muklada fourth on 107.
In a class where two-thirds of the field could win a race on any given Saturday or Sunday, consistency is the key to championships. In the first three rounds (underbones didn’t appear in Australia) SND Factory Racing Rapido’s Wawan Wello had done best, having amassed 71 points from six starts.
The Indonesian was 12 clear in the standings from UMA Racing duo of McKinley Kyle Paz (Philippines) and 2017 champion, Akid Aziz (Malaysia), who had 59 apiece. Team One for All’s Affendi Rosli and Peerapong Luiboonpeng, together with ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Ahmad Fazli Sham, were also within striking distance, having scored more than 50 points so far.
Meanwhile, 13-year-old Aldi Satya Mahendra, who sensationally won a wet race two at Suzuka, had shown what a force to be reckoned with he. Australia’s Travis Hall wasn’t in China, but Honda Racing Vietnam’s Nguyen Vu Thanh returned to the fold after recovering injuries sustained in a start-line crash at Chang International in round three.
Although track knowledge was unlikely to be much of a factor after such a long absence, Affendi, Adib Rosley (RCB Accentwire Yamaha YY PANG Racing) and Rozaiman Said (Cardinals Racing Team), had all raced here last time out, back in 2012.
Free practice and qualifying
UMA Racing Yamaha’s Akid Aziz demonstrated the class that won him the UB150 title in 2017 right from the start of the first free practice session, breaking the two-minute mark with a time of 1:59.825.
As three more riders, Fazli Sham, Wawan and 13-year-old Aldi made it into the 1:59s during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, Akid turned the wick up still further to claim provisional pole position with a time of 1:59.158. Adib was fifth from Haziq Fairues, Gupita Kresna and Wahyu Aji Trilaksana. Fernando Masato was the 15th qualifier and therefore the first on track for Saturday morning’s superpole contest to determine grid positions on the first five rows.
Superpole & Race One
Aldi made another mark on the class by winning superpole from Kyle Paz and Wawan. Akid, Izzat Zaidi and Fazli Sham made up the second row.
UMA Racing Yamaha Philippines’ McKinley Kyle Paz took his second win of 2019 in a thrilling race one that saw him lead team-mate, Fernando Masato, across the finish line by the narrowest of margins. Teenage sensation, Aldi, followed up his win in Suzuka by finishing third after leading much of the race and showing that, at 13, he already has plenty of tactical savvy.
The first seven of eight laps were relatively incident free, but, with up to 20 riders in the leading group, the inevitable attrition came to pass on the final lap. Wawan, who had looked like a potential winner, high-sided out in a nasty looking crash, while Gupita Kresna and Akid found themselves forced to slow down and lose places when they got caught in other people’s crashes. Haziq Fairues was fourth, leading home Wahyu Nugroho, Fazli Sham, Richard Taroreh and Agung Fachrul. None of the fallers was injured.
Kyle Paz’s win and Wawan’s DNF meant that Paz jumped to the top of the standings with 84 points. Wawan, still on 71, dropped to second, with Akid is third on 66. Masato moved up to fourth on 62.
UMA Racing Malaysia’s Akid Aziz made up for a disappointing race one, when he was held up by the mistakes of others on the last lap, by taking a superbly judged victory in race two. The race initially was red-flagged when a crash at turn 4 by Richard Taroreh and Izzat Raduan left debris on the track. The mess was quickly cleared up and the race restarted with a reduced distance of six laps.
Many of the usual suspects took turns at the front, including 13-year-old pole man, Aldi, Fazli Sham, Gupita and Wahyu Aji, Haziq Fairues and UMA Racing Philippines duo, McKinley Kyle Paz and Fernando Masato, who were riding high after their one-two on Saturday.
On the final lap, Akid made his way through the pack to get into the last corner clear of danger and sprinted to the line 51 hundredths in front of Fazli Sham, with a similar gap to Wahyu Aji, who notched up his second podium of the season for ONEXOX TKKR SAG.
Hot on the heels of the podium finishers were Akid’s ream-mate, Haziq Fairues, Kyle Paz, Masato and Mahendra.
Wawan’s race one woes were compounded when a mechanical failure took him out of contention. His Chinese misadventures have dropped him from first to fifth in the standings, while Kyle Paz has moved to the top with 95 points, four ahead of Akid. Fazli lies third with 81.
ARRC returns to Sepang for round six on 19-21 September.
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