The FIM Asia Road Racing (ARRC) Supersport 600 championship went to Manual Tech KYT’s Azlan Shah this afternoon after an enthralling curtain closer to the 2017 season. The championship intrigue raged behind Yamaha Thailand’s imperious wildcard and double race winner, Apiwat Wongthananon.
It was the finishing touch to a perfect weekend for the former Asia Production 250 champion. Having claimed a convincing pole position, he snatched Race 1 from Akeno Speed Racing’s Anthony West in a breathtaking last corner move and today cleared off from the start to win by 2.4 seconds, again from the Australian star.
Azlan Shah, the only title contender who looked to have the pace of the front runners at Chang International Circuit, made a good start from the outside of the second row to slot in behind Chalermpol Polmai at Turn 1. Behind the Malaysian, Decha Kraisart, Thitipong Warakorn and Anthony West engaged a battle that ultimately would decide the 2017 championship. Series, Zaqwan Zaidi fluctuated between 11th and eighth as he traded places with Taiga Hada, Yuki Ito, Ahmad Yudhistira and Ratthapong Wilairot. As West’s yellow Yamaha edged its way up the leaderboard, eventually into second place on lap 12, Azlan had to fight for third place first with Chalermpol, then Thitipong, while Decha dropped back towards the chasing pack. Zaqwan, meanwhile, appeared stuck in 10th place and therefore second in the provisional championship. However, a late charge by the defending champion, took him up to seventh place, ahead of Taiga Hada and Yuki Ito. An equally determined Azlan put daylight between himself and Chalermpol on the last lap, to bring his points total to 155, four more than Zaqwan and bringing him his second ARRC championship. Behind Azlan, Chalermpol got the better of Thitipong by one tenth of a second, while Decha ended up a further nine seconds adrift in sixth.
Zaqwan won a tight contest for 7th from Hada, Ito and Yudhistira, who completed the top ten.
Hada took third place in the rider standings, from Yuki Ito and Ahmad Yudhistira. It closed out another closely contested season, which saw eight different race winners and Azlan take the title after having spent much of the season struggling with injuries.
ARRC is expected to begin the 2018 season at Chang International Circuit and may add more rounds in different countries before the final schedule is announced.