There were three Australians among the 83 riders who made the trip to Thailand for ARRC Round 3 at Chang International Circuit this weekend. All of them had previously chalked up ARRC podium finishes, but only one of them, 14-year-old Travis Hall, had been to the track before.
Yamaha Racing ASEAN’s Broc Parkes arrived as the ASB 1000 championship leader following solid finishes in round one at Sepang and the second and first places chalked up in round two at Tailem Bend.
Bryan Staring was making a second appearance for Kawasaki Thailand, again standing in for the injured Thitipong Warakorn after scoring first and second place finishes in Australia. Travis is in his second season with Malaysia-based Hi Rev SCK Honda Racing team after strong showings in the mad, bad Underbone 150 class.
ARRC’s 30+ underbones didn’t make the trip to Australia, but the series was back up to its full four classes for Round 3. The Hermann Tilke designed Chang International Circuit is largely flat and has 12 turned engineered into its 4.55 kilometres.
As Bryan Staring succinctly put it, “It’s basically a couple of drag strips with a technical bit in the second half of the lap, but it’s surprisingly hard to get right.” Getting satisfaction from the set-up was to prove elusive during the weekend for the ASBK championship leader.
Next stop on the ARRC calendar is Round 4 which will be held at Suzuka on 28-30th June.
Asia Superbike 1000
It was hard to call ARRC’s new-for-2019 premier class in Thailand. It was the tenth time the series has made the trip to Buriram, but the first time any of Asia’s regular stars had raced a superbike there. On the other hand, Parkes and Staring had no track experience, but vastly more time aboard one-litre machinery. Adding to that, two rounds and four races had seen race wins from four different riders and four different manufacturers.
Daytime temperatures were in the early 30s, track temperatures in the early 40s and, while rain threatened on Friday and Saturday, there was nothing to disrupt proceedings.
The mercurial Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, lying second to Parkes in the championship after Round 2, got his green liveried ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW hooked up nicely in Friday’s free practice to finish the day top on combined times with a best lap of 1:35.518 in FP3.
That was 0.756 faster than Honda Asia Dream Racing’s Zaqhwan Zaidi, who missed the last session when he somersaulted his CBR1000RR SP on the out lap.
Apiwat Wongthananon, who showed plenty of speed at Tailem Bend, applied his track knowledge to good effect to record 1:36.416, 0.15s better than Broc, who brought his times down progressively in each session. Ahmad Yudhistira, Yuki Ito and Ratthapong Wilairot also recorded times in the 1:36s, while Bryan managed a best time of 1:37.004 to end the day eighth.
Qualifying on Saturday morning went much the same way. Azlan was unable to quite match his best free practice time, crashing in the closing moments, but still took pole with a time of 1:35.790, which edged Yamaha Thailand’s hard charging Apiwat to the middle of the front row by seven thousandths of a second.
Zaqhwan was third on 1:36.062, Parkes improved on his best practice time, recording 1:36.385, which was two hundredths better than team-mate Ito and about the same again in front of Victor Racing’s Ahmad Yudhistira.
Bryan got his times into the 1:36s and ended up sandwiched on the third row between Ratthapong and Access Plus Ducati’s TJ Alberto, who was promoted to ninth after Chaiwichit Nisakul crashed and broke his left wrist after recording 1:36.978 early in the session.
Asia Superbike Race 1
Rain clouds gathered overhead and spattered the grid for race one’s 13 laps on Saturday afternoon. The threat of rain faded on the warm-up lap and when the lights went out Apiwat got the best launch from the middle of the front row to lead poleman Azlan first time around, from Zaqhwan, who found himself holding off the three Yamahas of Ito, Yudhistira and Ratthapong and the Kawasaki of Bryan Staring. TJ Alberto, headed the rest of the field.
At mid distance Azlan and Apiwat had got around one second clear, only for Zaqhwan to close them back down, bringing Broc Parkes and Yuki Ito with him. There was little to choose between the Malaysian and the Thai at the front, until Apiwat ran wide at turn 12 at the end of lap nine, falling back to fifth, before mounting a recovery.
Zaqhwan made a bid to catch the green BMW, leaving Broc and Ito in a squabble with Apiwat, as the Thai rider fought his way back. At the end Azlan swept to his second win of the season six tenths clear of compatriot, Zaqhwan, while Apiwat got in front of Ito, then Broc, to take third.
Three-and-a-half seconds further back, Ratthapong came through to sixth, holding off Bryan and Yudhistira. TJ came through to ninth ahead of Farid Badrul on the second ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW, Kazuma Tsuda and Jonathan Serrapica.
Asia Superbike Race 2
Lessons learned on Saturday produced a very different race on Sunday, which was run under clear skies and slightly hotter temperatures. Azlan got his BMW away well, from Broc Parkes, Zaqhwan Zaidi and Yuki Ito. Apiwat Wongthananon was slow off the line, but quickly fought his way through to third, as Zaqhwan dropped slightly off the pace.
Broc, then Apiwat got past Azlan. The Australian was unable to break clear, but his Thai and Malaysian challengers were also unable to get past as the race moved into its late stages. The game changed on the final lap as Azlan moved past Apiwat to take second and put Broc under pressure.
Apiwat fought back and the three approached Chang’s notorious turn 12 together. Azlan moved to the inside of Parkes, lost the front under braking, picked his BMW back up and scrambled to the line to complete the double a wheel in front of Broc, who was just four thousandths clear of Apiwat.
Zaqhwan held steady to take fourth, a second clear of Ahmad Yudhistira, who did another brilliant job for Victor Racing Team as the top privateer. Yuki Ito, who went back after a promising start, finished sixth ahead of Bryan for Kawasaki Thailand.
Parkes stays at the top of the standings after another solid weekend’s work, moving up to 105 points, while Azlan’s double brings him to 97 ahead of Zaqhwan on 84.
People who don’t know Peerapong Boonlert talked about him being under pressure going into his home round with four wins from home starts. By the end of the weekend they would come to realise that Yamaha Thailand’s newest star was simply sticking to his plan and watching as his main rivals got increasingly frustrated trying to catch up with him.
As widely expected, Hong Leong’s Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin and Adam Norrodin returning from CEV Moto2 duty led the chase behind the Thai championship leader in free practice on Friday. Peerapong just stayed clear of them with a best time of 1:40.345, with Adam six tenths further back in third on Friday’s combined times.
AP Honda’s Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi was fourth ahead of Astra Honda’s Andi Farid Izdihar and Musashi Boon Siew Honda’s Azroy Hakeem Anuar. Ramdan Rosli, Afif Amran, Passawit Thitiwararak and Rheza Danica Ahrens completed the top ten. Spanish dark horse, Javier Orellana Malloy, who set Tailem Bend alight a month earlier on his ARRC debut, took time to solve the mysteries of going fast at Chang International to finish 13th.
In qualifying on Saturday morning Peerapong put the hammer down harder, recording 1:39.294 to take pole position by 0.574 from Kasma. Bunched up behind him were Andi Farid Izdihar, Adam Norrodin and Ramdan Rosli, while Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi completed the second row thanks to a lap of 1:40.877.
Supersport 600 Race 1
The championship leader got a perfect launch and had stretched out a lead of around five bike lengths by the time the field arrived at turn three on the opening lap. Kasma and Rosli gave chase and piled the pressure on the championship leader, with both Malaysians getting through at the start of lap three.
Peerapong took a look at his rivals, then dispatched Rosli back to third and re-taking the lead on lap four. ONEXOX TKKR SAG’s Rosli slipped back into the clutches of Andi Farid, while Adam Norrodin, Azroy Afif and Passawit spread out behind them. Andi converted pressure into provisional podium on lap seven.
At three-quarters race distance, Peerapong had stretched his advantage to 0.6s, while Kasma was another 2.3 seconds clear of Andi in third, who was having to deal with the ambitions of Rosli and Adam.
A mistake by Kasma saw him go wide at the final turn on lap ten, putting him in the sights of Adam, Rosli and Andi.
With Peerapong crossing the line with a seven second winning margin, Adam triumphed in the scrap behind to finish second, while Rosli pushed Kasma back to third ahead of Andi and Azroy. Passawit and Afif were a further eight seconds back, just in front of Helmi Azman, who was still suffering from the knocks he took in Australia and Rheza Danica Ahrens, who completed the top ten.
Supersport 600 Race 2
Kasma got the best launch from second place on the grid to lead out of turn one from Adam, Andy Farid and Peerapong Boonlert, who worked his way to the front by the time they reached the hairpin at turn three.
One lap later at the same corner, AP Honda’s Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi and Passawit Thitiwararak took each other into the gravel and out of contention.
Adam pushed Kasma back to third and they stretched away from Andi, who led Ramdan Rosli, Azroy Anuar, Rheza Danica Ahrens, Afif Amran and Helmi Azman.
By mid-distance, Adam was clear of Kasma and unable to do anything about the championship leader, who edged calmly away at the rate of few tenths each time around.
Behind Kasma the battle for fourth was resolved when Rosli got past Andi on the penultimate lap to cross the line fourth, 13 seconds behind the winner.
Peerapong’s hat-trick of doubles put him on 150 points, a lead of 79 over Andi Farid, who has Azroy and Adam tied just behind him on 69.
AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Muklada Sarapuech took her home race by the scruff of the neck from the start of free practice, finishing Friday half a second clear of team-mate, Piyawat Patoomyos, thanks to a lap of 1:53.138.
Andy Fadly was next best, despite a 500rpm rev-cut equaliser earned by going more than 25 points clear of the fifth placed rider in the championship. He recorded 1:53.724, which was a few hundredths quicker than the third AP Honda, of Tatchakorn Buasri and Faerozi Toreqottullah, who was the fastest Yamaha.
Fadly’s Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki team-mate, Aiki Iyoshi, also carrying a rev handicap, managed 1:53.994, while the three Astra Hondas of Irfan Ardiansyah, Lucky Hendriansia and Awhin Sanjaya formed an orderly line in seventh, eighth and ninth, all within one tenth of each other. Yamaha Thailand’s class rookie, Suttipat Patchaeetron, did well to finish up tenth.
In qualifying on Saturday, times dipped below 1:53 at the top of the AP250 timing screens, as widely expected. Muklada Sarapuech kept turning the screw to take pole position, despite being challenged much harder during the 30 minute session than she had been the day before.
Astra Honda’s Irfan Ardiansiyah led part of the session until Muklada, after pausing in the AP Honda garage, came out and skimmed eight thousandths from the Indonesian’s best time, with a lap of 1:52.805. Tatchkorn Buasri was another few hundredths back and completed the front row, leaving the two rev-handicapped Manual Tech KYT Kawasakis of Andy Fadly and Aiki Iyoshi on row 2, separated by Piyawat Patoomyos.
The noteworthy progress of Idemitsu Honda Team India’s Sethu Rajiv saw him head row three from Faerozi and Suttipat.
Asia Production 250 Race 1
The AP Hondas of Muklada and Tatchakorn caught the rest of the field napping at the start of race one, opening an early gap that Fadly, in third, was unable to make up. He soon found himself passed by Astra Honda’s Irfan and then Piyawat, before he regrouped to head up the chase for the leading Hondas. Iyoshi and Faerozi joined the fight.
By the start of lap five, Muklada had a gap of one second over Tatchakorn, who had a similar gap back to a six-way duel headed by Irfan and Fadly. A tangle in the group between Piyawat and Iyoshi caught the eye of race control, who ordered the pair to report after the race. Iyoshi crashed out of the fray on lap seven.
With two laps left, Lucky Hendriansia had made his way through to third and attempted to tow the now four-bike group towards Tatchakorn. It was to no avail and Faerozi and Fadly got through until the final turn shuffle saw Irfan take third from Piyawat, Fadly and Faerozi, who crossed the line together.
Lucky finished seventh, from Astra team-make Awhin Sanjaya and the improving Cao Viet Nam, who bagged a best ever ninth position.
Muklada’s win put her more than 25 points ahead of Lucky in fourth, earning her a rev cut of 500rpm for the rest of the season.
Asia Production 250 Race 2
Tatchakorn led out of turn one at the start of race two with Andy Fadly, Muklada Sarapuech and Irfan Ardiansyah hot on his heels. Muklada got through to lead as they completed lap one, shortly after which her Honda picked up a puncture on the long straight between turns three and four, leaving her a long, slow ride back to the garage.
From lap two out of ten, the lead was contested mostly by Irfan and Tatchakorn, until lap six, when they were joined by Lucky Hendriansia, Awhin Sanjaya, Piyawat Patoomyos, the Yamaha of Faerozi Toreqotullah and the Kawasakis of Fadly and Iyoshi.
Awhin led into the last lap, followed by Astra team-mate, Irfan, Tatchakorn, Fadly and Faerozi. Iyoshi was edged wide and out of contention at turn four, Tatchakorn took the lead and held onto it as Awhin, Faerozi, Irfan and Fadly completed the top five, were covered by less than a second. Iyoshi came through to sixth ahead of Piyawat and Lucky. The Yamahas of Rey Ratukore and Rafid Topan were ninth and tenth.
Fadly’s fifth place was enough to put him one point ahead of Muklada to top the standings on 87. Aiki Iyoshi is third on 78, while Tatchakorn’s impressive weekend brings his total to 74.
The monos had two free practice sessions and qualifying, as normal for an ARRC Friday, with the usual suspects – more than half the 30-bike field – lapping in the 2:00s and 2:01s.
That was until UMA Racing Yamaha’s Akid Aziz took a dip under the two minute mark and lowered the lap record to 1:59.972, 0.024s under the previous best.
The closest anyone could get to Ariff Musa, who was eight tenths back from the 2017 champion. Richard Taroreh was third, just two thousandths slower than Ariff, on 2:00.732, while the Team for All pairing of Peerapong Luiboonpeng and Affendi Rosli were fourth and fifth.
The fastest 15 fought out grid positions for the first five rows early on Saturday. The best Akid could do on his one lap run was 2:03.567, which placed hm fourth, while UMA team-mate Haziq Fairues claimed pole from Izzat Zaidi, and Hafiza Rosa. Travis Hall qualified 23rd, ahead of Hi Rev SCK team-mates, Luthi Harith and 13-year-old Gun Mie from Japan.
Underbone 150 Race 1
Akid Aziz got away well from the second row to control lap the first of eight laps from the front. He was joined by UMA team-mate, Haziq Fairues and the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamahas of Hafiza Rosa and Ahmad Fazli Sham, who all traded places at the front of a 20 strong group, together with SND’s Wawan Wello, Izzat Zaidi, McKinley Kyle Paz and Richard Taroreh. Wahyu Aji Trilaksana also made his way through to the front, before crashing out at half distance.
As the machines fanned out, then funneled into the final turn, it was Akid Aziz who came through in front of Richard Taroreh and the wily Affendi Rosli. The first ten were separated by exactly a second as they crossed the finishing line, and the first 20 by less than 1.8s. Travis led the second group over the line in 21st place.
Underbone 150 Race 2
There was a sickening start to Sunday, as the engine of Hafiza Rosa’s ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha cut out on the run down to turn one. In the ensuing chaos, Travis ran into the back of him and crashed, as did Vietnamese rider, Le Khanh Loc, who slammed into the barrier on the inside of the straight. Travis walked away, while a knock to the kidney of Hafiza and Khanh Loc’s broken left femur seemed relatively minor, given the horrendous optics of the pile-up.
The restarted race distance was reduced to six laps and treated the Sunday crowd and underbone fans around the world to the best this class can offer. Haziq Fairues converted his pole position into an early lead, chased by team-mate and race one winner, Akid Aziz, Affendi Rosli, Peerapong Luiboonpeng, McKinley Kyle Paz, Wawan Wello, Ahmad Fazli Sham and the rest of the 27 bike swarm. Adib Rosley also led before coming in for a ride-through penalty earned for a dangerous riding infraction on Saturday.
At the start of the last lap picking a winner looked as futile as picking the number of a lottery ticket, until Fazli Sham literally conjoured a lead of a few bike lengths in the middle of the lap that he managed to hold to the chequered flag, winning by 0.4s from Wawan Wello and Wahyu Nugroho, who had started from 29th on the grid.
A multi bike crash just behind the leaders at the last turn shuffled the pack still further and Wahyu Aji Trilaksana, Richard Taroreh, Peerapong, Faiz Zekri, Fairues, Rozaman Said and 13-year-old Gun Mie made up the top 10.
After two rounds for the underbones, McKinley Kyle Paz is on 55 points at the top of the championship standings, Wawan Wello is second with 51 and Akid Aziz third on 43.
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