The FIM Asia Cup of Road Racing (ACRR) returns to Thailand Circuit this weekend for Round 1 of the 2017 series. It is the tenth year for ACRR, which had its inaugural race at the Nakhonchaisri track, after being dreamed up by the FMSCT’s Thongchai Wongsawan and the MFJ’s Akira Goto. It joins a packed programme for the FMSCT All Thailand Superbike Championship Round 10.
Asia Cup has stayed true to its original aim, which is to bring some of the best young riders in Asia to compete for their countries in a national team competition. Riders are selected by the FIM affiliate organization for each nation and normally sent with a mentor and mechanic. They compete on motorcycles supplied by a sponsoring manufacturer which are allocated by ballot, to ensure fairness.
For the second year in a row, the weapon of choice is the 150cc Yamaha Exciter, with tyres supplied this time by Thai manufacturer, Vee Rubber. The bikes are supplied by Yamaha Thailand, together with a team of factory mechanics to support the riders. The bikes are also used in the national Thailand Moto Challenge series, which has spawned many talented racers, the best of which move up to the Yamaha R3 Thailand Challenge and from there to the full factory Yamaha Thailand team that recently won the Suzuka 4 Hours endurance race.
This year the seven countries represented are Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Nepal, together with the host country. Each team has two riders and the point scoring system carries one point for a race win, two points for second and so on, so the team with the lowest number of points wins.
The Philippines team was unlucky to have flight delays that thwarted them from making it to Friday’s Free Practice, but as the other visiting teams got to grips with the circuit, the Japanese team were quick to find a good pace, together with India, Sri Lanka and Taiwan, setting times to challenge the home team. As times improved, a group of riders appeared to be finding a pace in the 1:46-48 range, so qualifying on Saturday and the two races on Sunday should be as competitive as we have come to expect from this series.
As well as competition, camaraderie is encouraged, with group dinners so that riders, teams and officials from the participating countries can get to know each other. It invariably results in strong international bonds between riders who have, for the main part, only previously competed in their home countries. Following the event, they are taken for sightseeing tours and shopping trips to complete the international experience.
The action, together with the national Superbike and supporting races will be shown live on R2M.tv throughout the weekend.