The 2017 title chase in the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship underwent another drastic change late in the season as the Madras Motor Race Track, host to Round 5, brought an unexpected twist in the championship story. In the SuperSports 600cc class, Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi reignited his title hopes with a convincing victory at the 3.7km circuit.
The MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda Racing rider started the race second on the grid, behind surprise pole sitter Keminth Kubo of team Yamaha Racing. However, Zaqhwan’s depth of experience clearly showed at the start of the race. The Malaysian easily brushed aside his younger competitor and nipped into the holeshot with Taiga Hada and Kubo hot on his heels.
But the Malaysian rider was unfazed by the competition behind him. Despite track temperatures soaring up to 63 degrees, Zaqhwan looked cool and comfortable as he controlled the race pace at the front of the group.
Behind him, Taiga Hada opted for a safe strategy, preferring to follow Zaqhwan around the track as opposed to an all-out 16-lap battle. Hada’s decision to play it safe almost cost him the second place when Yuki Ito came storming in from third position. The last-lap tussle between the two Japanese riders allowed Zaqhwan to run away at the front.
Zaqhwan picked up his second win of the season with 27’20.721s. Hada successfully defended his second place with 27’21.347, and kept Ito in third place with 27’21.710s.
Behind the winning trio, championship leader Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman showed amazing drive and determination to finish the race. He was injured after a bad high side at the tail end of Friday’s third free practice session. Off-form, Azlan qualified 15th on the grid. He gritted his way through the entire race and limped home with a very creditable tenth place.
The Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing rider picked up enough points to stay in the lead. He holds 124 points while Zaqhwan and Hada are level in second overall with 118 points. However, Azlan’s injury is not expected to recover overnight. Therefore, a new championship leader is expected to emerge from Race 2 on Sunday.
In the Asia Production 250cc category, Gerry Salim was expected to seal the title in the first race. Uncharacteristically, the Indonesian ace crashed twice during the warm-up lap. The incidents left Gerry out of Race 1. In the absence of the dominating Indonesian rider, Tomoyoshi Koyama picked up his first AP250 win with a time of 22’07.059s. It was not an easy win for Koyama. He was pressured all the way by Thai rider Anupab Sarmoon who eventually finished second. Yamaha Racing Indonesia’s Galang Hendra Pratama crossed the finish line in third place.
Finally, in the Underbone 150cc category, Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam picked up his third win of the season at the Indian leg of the championship. The SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda Racing Team rider executed a well thought-out strategy throughout the 10-lap race. He clocked 19’14.180s as the race winner, followed by Mohd Haziq Mohd Fairues in second place with 19’14.358s. Azroy Hakeem Anuar made it an all-Malaysian podium, finishing third with 19’14.432s.
2 Taiga Hada (JPN) RAMA Honda by NTS T.Pro Ten 10 27:21.347s
3 Yuki Ito (JPN) Yamaha Racing 27:21.710s
4 Teppei Nagoe (JPN) MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda Racing 27:25.948s
5 Ratthapong Wilairot (THA) AP Honda Racing Thailand 27:28.595s
3 Taiga Hada (JPN) RAMA Honda by NTS T.Pro Ten 10 118pts
4 Yuki Ito (JPN) Yamaha Racing 109pts
5 Ahmad Yudhistira (INA) Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing 103pts
1 Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) RAMA Honda 22:07.059s
2 Anupab Sarmoon (THA) YAMAHA Thailand Racing TEAM 22:07.176s
3 Galang Hendra Pratama (INA) Yamaha Racing Indonesia 22:11.328s
4 Muklada Sarapuech (THA) AP Honda Racing Thailand 22:14.526s
5 Reynaldo Chrisantho Ratukore (INA) Yamaha Racing Indonesia Yamaha 22:14.801s
1 Gerry Salim (INA) Astra Honda Racing Team 175pts
2 Anupab Sarmoon (THA) YAMAHA Thailand Racing TEAM 135pts
3 Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) RAMA Honda 127pts
4 Takehiro Yamamoto (JPN) SIDRAP HONDA IKAZUCHI Racing Team 120pts
5 Rheza Danica Ahrens (INA) Astra Honda Racing Team 115pts
1 Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam (MAS) SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda Racing Team 19:14.180s
2 Md Haziq Md Fairues (MAS) UMA Racing Yamaha Maju Motor 19:14.358s
3 Azroy Hakeem Anuar (MAS) Yuzy Honda Vietnam Racing Team 19:14.432s
4 Md. Akid Aziz (MAS) UMA Racing Yamaha Maju Motor 19:14.543s
5 Anggi Setiawan (INA) Yamaha Yamalube KYT TJM RACETECH Racing Team 19:14.848s
1 Md Akid Aziz (MAS) UMA Racing Yamaha Maju Motor 144pts
2 Wahyu Aji Trilaksana (INA) Yamaha Racing Indonesia 120pts
3 Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam (MAS) SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda Racing Team 102pts
4 Md Haziq Md Fairues (MAS) UMA Racing Yamaha Maju Motor 100pts
5 Md Izzat Zaidi (MAS) RCB KAGE Motobatt Yamaha YY Pang Racing Team 100pts