The 2018 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) opened for business on Tuesday, ahead of Round 1, which begins on 2nd March at Chang International Circuit.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, who clinched the 2017 championship at the Buriram track less than three months ago, gave notice that he intends to hang onto his title by topping the timing screens in all three sessions on the first day. The Malaysian was the only rider under the 1:39 mark, finishing almost two tenths of a second clear of Yamaha Thailand’s Decha Kraisart and three tenths faster than 2016 champion Zaqwan Zaidi, who was just seven thousandths clear of Azlan’s Manual Tech KYT team mate, Ahmad Yudhistira. Decha’s new team mate, Ratthapong Wilairot quickly got down to his first day’s work with a Yamaha to end up fifth, less than four tenths slower than Azlan.
Tomoyoshi Koyama, who has returned to Supersport 600 after a year in the Asia Production 250cc class, also enjoyed his inaugural day as a MUSASHI Boon Siew Honda rider to end up sixth ahead of Yuki Ito for Yamaha Racing Asean, who was the last rider to break 1:40. Remarkably, Ito was only able to ride in the third and final session.
Azlan explained that critical improvements to his Kawasaki’s suspension had made it much easier to ride at Chang International and that the team intended to make further improvements on Wednesday.
YAMAHA THAILAND’S ANUPARB SARMOON showed why much of the smart money is on him to take the Asia Production 250cc title this year by finishing the day on 1:53.180, which was 0.599s clear of Astra Honda’s championship hope, Rheza Danica Ahrens and 0.944s clear of team mate, Peerapong Boonlert. Surprising many to finish fourth quickest was Astra Honda’s rookie, Mario Suryo Aji, who clocked a best time of 1:54.437, almost a tenth quicker than AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech.
WAHYU AJI TRILAKSANA headed the Underbone 150cc class by the end of the third session, lapping at 2:02.357 for Yamaha Racing Indonesia. The 2016 champion was 14 thousandths ahead of Yuzy Honda Vietnam’s Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa. Returning double champion, Gupita Kresna Wardhana was in good form with his Yamaha SND Factory machine, recording 2:02.897, to end the day fifth, almost a second clear of Mohd Akik Aziz, who was sixth.