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Sep 7, 2013

Fujiwara Wins PETRONAS FIM Asia Road Racing Championship 600cc Supersport Race At Autopolis

PETRONAS FIM Asia Road Racing Championship: 600cc Supersport race winner Katsuaki Fujiwara (center), runner-up Shinichi Nakatomi (left) and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (right) on the podium at Autopolis.
HITMAN 2: NINJA 1
FUJIWARA DELIVERS ON HOME WIN PROMISE

The two back-to-back rounds for the 2013 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship has evolved into a showpiece of high-speed 600cc racing by world class riders Katsuaki Fujiwara and Shinichi Nakatomi. The wildcard Nakatomi scored a double win in Round 4 at Suzuka last weekend but Fujiwara may be about to even the score with a hard-earned win at Kawasaki's home track, the Autopolis International Race Course.

Unlike other rounds, the Autopolis leg of the season shared the stage with the All Japan Road Race Championship. Therefore, Race 1 for all three classes were held on Saturday. In the run up to the race, Fujiwara admitted to feeling extremely pressured.

"I have been struggling all season long. With the exception of my win in Sepang at the beginning of the year, the team and I have had a hard time bringing home the results. As I lined up on pole position at the start of the race, all sorts of scenarios were running through my head and I was feeling uncharacteristically nervous," Fujiwara recalled.

Race 1 was certainly everything Fujiwara had anticipated. Both Fujiwara and Nakatomi engaged in a fierce battle throughout the 12-lap race, swapping leads at every turn while Azlan Shah hovered in third position waiting to take advantage of even the tiniest mistake by the two experienced riders.

Fujiwara was delighted when he crossed the finish line in first place with 22:55.198s, 0.062s ahead of Nakatomi who had to settle for second place with 22:55.260s.

"This was his (Fujiwara's) home track and he obviously knew every single inch of it very well. I tried attacking from so many different angles but he was always ready with an answer," said Nakatomi. By way of explanation, Nakatomi's team used to be called RS Koshien Hitman until it was shortened to RS Koshien in recent years. That is why their riders were nicknamed 'Hitmen' just as the term 'Ninja' are often applied to the Kawasaki stable of riders.

Behind the two duelling Japanese aces, Azlan Shah picked up his ninth consecutive podium finish in third place with 22:55.294s.

"I am feeling frustrated by the results. I badly wanted to join in the fight but my bike was such that I could only follow their pace. I tried several times but was unable to carry the battle to either Fujiwara or Nakatomi," said Azlan who now leads the championship by a 28.5-point margin.

Race winner Fujiwara is still second overall with 133.5 points and Zamri who kept up his pace and finished fourth with 23:02.773s consolidated his third overall ranking with 107.5 points.

Makoto Tamada, despite a 2-round absence, is still ranked fourth with 88.5 points followed by Yuki Ito fifth overall with 76 points.

Track temperature at the Autopolis International Race Course was recorded at an ideal 30 degrees Celcius. For the first time ever in the SuperSports 600cc category, no DNF results were recorded for Race 1. With the exception of Indonesian wildcard Dimas Ekky Pratama who was forced to pull out due to worsening injuries caused by a fall in Suzuka, all 25 riders on the grid started and completed the 12-lap race.

Race 2 will take place on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 2:45pm JST (GMT+9).


SuperSports 600cc Race 1 Results:
1. Katsuaki Fujiwara (JPN), 22:55.198; 2. Shinichi Nakatomi (JPN), 22:55.260; 3. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS), 22:55.294; 4. Mohd Zamri Baba (MAS), 23:02.773; 5. Yuki Ito (JPN), 23:02.838

SuperSports 600cc Standings after Round 5 Race 1:
1. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS), 162 pts; 2. Katsuaki Fujiwara (JPN), 133.5 pts; 3. Zamri Baba (MAS), 107.5 pts; 4. Makoto Tamada (JPN), 88.5 pts; 5. Yuki Ito (JPN), 76 pts


ROZAIMAN CELEBRATES FIRST ARRC WIN

Malaysian rider Mohd Rozaiman Said celebrated his first ARRC win at Round 5 of the 2013 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship when he outwitted 13 other Underbone 115cc riders at the Autopolis International Race Course.

Rozaiman was inconspicuous throughout the first 10 laps of the 11-lap race, huddled down in the middle of the pack. The GiVi Honda Yuzy Pachie rider managed to pull off a surprise at the last corner when he broke out of the slipstream and hurtled his way to the finish line with a time of 17:01.390s.

"During the sighting lap, I didn't feel very comfortable with how the engine was performing. With the long straight here in Autopolis, I didn't want to take the lead so often as it would mean that my bike may lose power at the last lap. So I opted for the strategy favoured by Indonesian rider Hadi Wijaya and waited until the second half of the last lap before I dared to take the chance to give full rein to my bike. I'm really glad that the strategy worked out as this is my first time winning the tough Underbone 115cc class in the Asian series," said Rozaiman whose last ARRC podium was posted in 2010.

The top six riders all finished within one second of each other. Rozaiman's team mate, Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa, was award second place with a time of 17:01.426s followed by Harlan Fadhillah in third with 17:01.433s.

Championship leader Hadi Wijaya finished sixth in Race 1 and continues to lead the title chase with 154 points to his name. Ahmad Afif Amran is also second on the championship ladder with 133 points while Harlan strengthens his third overall position by adding a 16-point haul to his collection.

There was only one dropout from Race 1 in the Underbone 115cc class - Vorapong Malahuan whose engine seized after five laps. The remaining 13 riders completed the 11-lap race in a single block, leaving the Autopolis timekeepers with the massive problem of sorting out the photo finish.


Underbone 115cc Race 1 Results:
1. Md Rozaiman Said (MAS), 17:01.390; 2. Md Amirul Ariff Musa (MAS), 17:01.426; 3. Harlan Fadhillah (INA), 17:01.433; 4. Md Affendi Rosli (MAS), 17:01.438; 5. Ferlando Herdian (INA), 17:01.553

Underbone 115cc Standings after Round 5 Race 1:
1. Hadi Wijaya (INA), 154 pts; 2. Ahmad Afif Amran (MAS), 133 pts; 3. Harlan Fadhillah (INA), 112 pts; 4. Norizman Ismail (MAS), 107 pts; 5. Gupita Kresna (INA), 91 pts


GERRY SALIM ENDS ONO'S TWO ROUND WINNING STREAK

Indonesian rider Gerry Salim continues to show impressive improvements as the Asian Dream Cup completed Race 1 of the penultimate round of the 2013 season at the Autopolis International Circuit.

Gerry, whose performance graph is showing a consistent and positive upward movement, managed to slipstream his way to victory and effectively denied Hiroki Ono's hopes of ending the title chase in the first race of the Autopolis round. Gerry's win was clocked within a time of 16:31.549s.

"In comparison, the Suzuka Circuit was much harder for me to learn and even though this was my first time racing at Autopolis, I find this track layout to be more suitable for my riding style," said Gerry who has recorded five podium wins in the 2013 season so far.

Behind the Indonesian rider, Thai newcomer and the only girl in the championship, Muklada Sarapuech, stunned the rest of the boys when she emerged second with a time of 16:31.581s. "This second place feels like an early birthday present for me," said Muklada who turns 20 on September 8. "Tomorrow will be my actual birthday and I hope I can give myself an even bigger present by winning the race."

Kanatat Jaiman posted his second podium of the season in third place with 16:31.846s. For the first time this season, Hiroki Ono missed out on the podium and was disappointed to find himself in fourth place with a time of 16:32.116s. Malaysian rider Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali was again consistent in fifth place.

With a total of 208 points in the bag after the first race of Round 5, Ono will now only need to finish seventh in Race 2 to seal the deal. Gerry Salim, meanwhile, has created a 16-gap margin between himself in second overall and Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali third with 126 points.

Asia Dream Cup Race 1 Results:
1. Gerry Salim (INA), 16:31.549; 2. Muklada Sarapuech (THA), 16:31.581; 3. Kanatat Jaiman (THA), 16:31.846; 4. Hiroki Ono (JPN), 16:32.116; 5. Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali (MAS), 16:32.119

Asia Dream Cup Standings after Round 5 Race 1:
1. Hiroki Ono (JPN), 208 pts; 2. Gerry Salim (INA), 142 pts; 3. Md Fitri Ashraf Razali (MAS), 126 pts; 4. Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS), 102 pts; 5. Kanatat Jaiman (THA), 80 pts