THAILAND’S KEMINTH KUBO lit a fire under the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Supersport 600 class on his last lap of the third and final Free Practice session this afternoon at Chang International Circuit.
Yamaha Racing Asean’s 19 year old began his sophomore year in ARRC’s premier class in style and followed up the rapid pace he had shown in the official pre-season test earlier in the week. He was followed within a few hundredths of a second by Yamaha Thailand’s Decha Kraisart and Ratthapong Wilairot, the latter finding his new blue machine very much to his liking.
The Thai trio were the only riders to break into the 1:38s, with Ratthapong enjoying a 0.269s advantage over MUSASHI Boon Siew Honda’s fourth placed Zaqwan Zaidi. The Manual Tech KYT Kawasakis of defending champion, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ahmad Yudhistira, which had been pacesetters during the pre-season test and through to the first official free practice session, found themselves in a battle thereafter. From Free Practice 2 Azlan’s main rivals found their rhythm, with Zaqwan and Decha pushing him back to third in the second session, before Kubo blew the field wide open with his flyer moments before the chequered flag came out to end the day’s on track action..
Tomoyoshi Koyama improved steadily in each period as he re-calibrated from his adventure in the 250cc class in 2017, finishing 7th with a best time of 1:39.471 for MUSASHI Boon Siew Honda. Behind him, Anthony West, Thitipong Warakorn and Andi Farid Izdihar, who was the best of the class rookies, completed the top 10 and were the last men below 1:40. Yuki Ito spoiled his final outing with a crash, but had been among the leaders in the first two sessions. Taiga Hada, one of last season’s final round championship contenders had an up and down day, but dipped under 1:40 in the second session to signal his intent.
THE NEW LOOK ASIA PRODUCTION 250CC FIELD is beginning to sort itself out, with Yamaha Thailand’s Anuparb Sarmoon showing characteristic pace and determination to head the first and final sessions. What stood out most, however was the performance of 14 year old Indonesian Mario Suryo Aji, who not only ran close to the leaders every time out, but also recorded the fastest lap of the day, registering 1:53.106 in the second session. ‘Super’ Mario’s speed has created an unexpected dynamic in the Astra Honda garage by matching or exceeding the pace of the team’s championship nominee, Rheza Danica Ahrens. Of the other rookies, AP Honda’s Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi impressed with a best time of 1:53.8 in Free Practice 2, as did Yamaha Thailand debutante, Kanatat Jaiman, who looks comfortable lapping below 1:54.
Kritchaporn’s senior team mate, Muklada Sarapuech, went over the high side on her first outlap of the day, but recovered strongly to finish fourth in Free Practice 2 and third in the final session of the day.
Other riders who are shaping up to be podium contenders are Indonesia’s Andy Muhammad Fadly, Ahwin Sanjaya and Richard Taroreh and Thailand’s Peerapong Boonlert.
THE UNDERBONE 150 RIDERS continued to enjoy their new-for-2018 Dunlop slicks, which are giving them more lean angle, better, deeper braking and more grip under acceleration.
SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda’s Helmi Azman was the happiest of all, topping both morning practice sessions and Qualifying. He was the only rider to dip into the 2:01s and finished two tenths clear of Yuzy Honda Vietnam’s and Indonesian former champions, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana and Gupita Kresna, who looks more distinctive than ever in bright yellow Yamaha Yamalube SND leathers and livery.
The top fifteen qualifiers go through to Saturday morning’s Superpole shoot-out, which will determine grid positions for the first five rows of the grid.
Saturday’s programme begins at 09:00 local time and, as well as Underbone Superpole includes Qualifying for the 250s and 600s in the morning and the first race for each class in the afternoon.
Wroommm!! will be live and reporting from pit lane and the full day’s action will be shown live on Facebook and broadcast on Fox Sports and True4U.