Images Courtesy of Asia Road Racing Championship
Declaration: Barry Russell will represent the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of Thailand (FMSCT) as the national Jury Member for Round 1 of the Asia Road Racing Championship 2018
THE MANUAL TECH KYT KAWASAKIS of reigning champion Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ahmad Yudhistira carried the strong form they showed on day one of the Asia Road Racing Championship pre-season test into the second and final day on Wednesday at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Azlan maintained his station at the top of the Supersport 600 timing screen with a best lap of 1:38.691, which was 0.148s quicker than Decha Kraisart’s Yamaha Thailand racing Team R6. The Thai former two times champion, split the two Kawasakis by finishing ahead of third placed Yudhistira, who managed a best time of 1:39.037. Zaqwan Zaidi was just five thousandths adrift of Yudhistira in fourth place, with Yamaha Racing Asean’s Yuki Ito and Keminth Kubo completing the top six.
Taiga Hada was seventh quickest ahead of Ratthapong Wilairot, who is already lapping faster on the Yamaha than he managed on last season’s CBR 600RR. The 26 year old Thai still seems slightly awkward in his new blue leathers, as aftershocks continue following his move from AP Honda, but he looks anything but awkward on the R6 when he leaves pit lane. Ratthapong was a tenth faster than Tomoyoshi Koyama, who is making a solid return to the class on the second MUSASHI Boon Siew Honda.
After two days of testing, the 19 strong field was neatly split, with the first nine places occupied by experienced riders and the remaining ten places all taken by class rookies. Fastest of the new boys was Hong Leong Yamaha’s Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin, who was followed by fellow Malaysians, Azroy Hakeem Anuar and Ramdam Rosli. AP Honda Racing Thailand debutantes, Keisuke Kurihara and Passawit Thitivararak both made good progress throughout the two days, bringing their lap times into the late 1:40s.
With Anthony West absent and just one second covering the fastest nine riders, anybody in the top half of the time sheet could make it to the podium over the coming weekend’s two races.
ASIA PRODUCTION 250CC has a different look this season, with only two riders from 2017’s top six still remaining. The series is feeding its best riders into world championships, with Gerry Salim moving into the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship and Galang Hendra Pratama earning a full time World Supersport 300 ride. Meanwhile Tomoyoshi Koyama has moved back into the 600 class after a successful season in the intermediate class.
On the evidence of the two test days, Anuparb Sarmoon, who was the only Yamaha rider in 2017 able consistently to take the fight to the dominant twin-engined Hondas, looks like the title favourite.
Yamaha appears to have overcome its power deficit and 25 year old Anuparb showed his class to lead all six sessions and ending up with a best time of 1:52.938, two tenths faster than former Moto2 rider, Rafid Topan Sucipto, who was two hundredths ahead of AP Honda’s Muklada Sarapuech. Yamaha Racing Indonesia’s Richard Taroreh was fourth in front of the rider already being described as a rookie sensation, 14 year-old ‘Super’ Mario Suryo Aji. Mario beat his senior team mate, Rheza Danica Ahrens to fifth place, to create a stir in the Astra Honda garage, as it is Rheza who is expected to carry the championship torch during 2018.
Two Thai rookies followed with Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi seventh for AP Honda and Yamaha Thailand’s Kanatat Jaiman in eighth. Awhin Sanjaya and Peerapong Boonlert completed the top ten for Astra Honda and Yamaha Thailand respectively.
THE UNDERBONE 150cc FIELD continued getting to grips – literally – with the Dunlop Moto3 medium compound slicks they will be using for the first time in 2018. Most riders found themselves around one second quicker on the new rubber.
Returning double champion, Gupita Kresna, got the better of his rivals, after a relatively quiet first day, to record an overall best time of 2:01.476, while many of his rivals were still experimenting with settings.
“This tyre has allowed us to brake later and tackle corners faster,” explained Gupita, “In all, rider confidence has increased, so you can look out for more battles ahead.”
2016 champion, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana, who finished third on 2:02.228, added, “The tyre itself is fantastic, but I’m still tring to decide on the ideal rim size. I have not hit my target time of 2:01 yet.”
THERE WILL BE A PAUSE IN THE PADDOCK on Thursday, before pit lane opens at 09:00 on Friday for ARRC Round 1. Round 1 from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th March. You will be able to follow the action on all three days on Live streaming from the ARRC Facebook page, while races on Saturday and Sunday will also be shown on Fox Sports, True4U and Astro Arena.
Wroommm!! is reporting from pit lane throughout this crucial curtain raiser for 2018.