ZIPPY ZAMRI FIRST MALAYSIAN TO SCORE A DOUBLE AT SEPANG
Walking wounded, Mohd Zamri Baba overcame his injuries to reward Honda with a double victory ahead of poleman, Katsuaki Fujiwara in a hard fought SuperSports 600cc battle as the opening round of the 2014 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship wrapped up at the Sepang Circuit on Sunday.
The victory also marked Zamri’s first time winning his home race, a feat only reigning champion, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Chia Tuck Cheong achieved before.
“I really wanted to win here even though my condition was not great. I have never won the opening round before so to achieve that in both races today while still recovering from my injuries is incredibly rewarding,” said Zamri who is also the first Malaysian to score a double win at the Sepang Circuit in the SuperSports 600cc class.
In a battle of epic proportions, Zamri won Race 1 with 27’38.920s after fending off the challenges that came in the form of PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha’s Yuki Ito (27’39.471s) and BEET Kawasaki Racing’s Fujiwara (27’40.605s) who finished second and third respectively.
The Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing rider went on to mastermind one of the best races of his career in Race 2 to trail his Kawasaki rival and lay his assault in the final lap whilst the latter struggled with grip and handling issues. He completed the race with 27’28.232s while Fujiwara was forced to be content in second place (27’29.004s) and Makoto Tamada took third (27’29.004s).
“The team did a great job setting up the bike and all my strategies fell into place. To be frank, I did not expect to win Race 1 given my current condition but I did and that gave me a confidence boost.
“The pace in Race 2 was significantly faster as the temperatures were high so I maintained a consistent pace for most parts of the 25-lap race. Throughout that time I studied Fujiwara from behind and noticed he had some trouble with grip half way through. I knew it was only going to get worse so I waited until the final lap to put pressure on him. All in all it was an amazing race and congratulations to all the winners,” added Zamri.
Picking up 50 points from this race, Zamri now leads the SuperSports 600cc standings followed by Fujiwara with 36 points and Tamada third, 29 points.
HOMEGROUND ADVANTAGE A PLUS FOR MALAYSIAN RIDERS
In the Underbone 130cc category, Ahmad Fazli Sham proved he still has what it takes to compete against his Asian level peers as the poleman took the lead in the standings after finishing fifth and first in Race 1 and Race 2 respectively.
In Race 1, Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing’s Norizman Ismail fired off the first salvo with 19’53.202s followed by Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech’s Gupita Kresna (19’53.223s) and T.Pro Yuzy Honda’s Mohd Rozaiman third (19’53.415s).
Norizman was hoping to repeat another podium in Race 2 but his efforts were hampered by a broken exhaust pipe early in the race. The team managed to have the problem resolved in time for Norizman to re-join the race, but by then, he was already two laps behind. Norizman eventually retired with four laps remaining on the race clock.
Fazli Sham made full use of his compatriot’s absence to secure a victory with 19’31.432s ahead of teammate Mohd Affendi Rosli (19’31.633s) and Rozaiman (19’32.710s).
“Although I’m riding as a wildcard this weekend, the team did an excellent job with the bike. It gave me the pace to take pole position and finish both races among top five. It feels really great to be competitive again,” said Fazli.
The PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha rider leads the standings with 36 points followed by Affendi with 33 points and Rozaiman third, 32 points.
NOT SO EASY FOR KHAIRUL AFTER ALL
An easy qualifying does not guarantee an easy win. Khairul Idham Pawi found this out the hard way when Race Day commenced for the first round of the 2014 Asia Dream Cup, held in conjunction with the 2014 PETRONAS FIM Asia Road Racing Championship at the Sepang Circuit on April 20, 2014.
An uncontested qualifying on Race Day earned the Malaysian rider the right to park his bike on the coveted pole position on the Asia Dream Cup grid. Although Khairul did manage to convert both pole positions into eventual race wins, it was not without having to overcome serious competition from the rest of the field.
In Race 1, Khairul faced stiff resistance from Japan’s Teppei Nagoe and Indonesia’s Aditya Pangestu. Also in the mix were Chinese-Taipei rider Chuang An-Yu, Japanese Shyunya Mori and India’s Sumit Loucs Toppo. Although Khairul managed to stay in the lead each time the group crossed the finish line, he was unable to pull away from the pack. At the end of the 14 lap race, Khairul notched up a win with a total time of 19’06.798s, crossing the finish line a mere 0.006 seconds ahead of second-placed Teppei Nagoe who clocked 19’06.804s. Indonesia’s Aditya Pangestu zipped home in third place with a total time of 19’06.985s.
Race 2 was an even closer affair in the battle for P1. Khairul was constantly harassed by the two Japanese riders Teppei Nagoe and Syunya Mori, with Nagoe managing to grab the lead in the first half of the race. However, Khairul’s intimate knowledge of the Sepang North Circuit helped him keep the charging Japanese riders at bay. The race results from Race 2 was even closer with Khairul clinching his second win with a mere 0.003s gap. While Khairul celebrated with a total race time of 19’07.992s, Teppei Nagoe and Syunya Mori escorted him on to the winners’ podium in second and third places with times of 19’07.995s and 19’08.226s respectively.
“Race 2 was certainly tougher than Race 1. I lost the lead to Nagoe at the last lap and that would have cost me the win. But I am thankful that my overtaking attempt at Turn 5 worked out as planned and I couldn’t be more relieved and grateful for today’s double win,” said Khairul.
Khairul’s double win puts him at the head of the championship standings with a 10-point gap ahead of Nagoe who scored 40 points after finishing second in both races. Syunya Mori ties in 3rd overall position with Aditya Pangestu.