AZLAN, FUJIWARA TIED AS LEADERS Round 1 of the 2013 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship got off to an amazing start with intense battles up and down the grid in all race classes. In the SuperSports 600cc class, MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda’s Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman squared off against BEET Kawasaki’s Katsuaki Fujiwara in both races, but both ended the day back on square one. Fujiwara got off to a great start in Race 1 but could not prevent Azlan from diving in on the inside to steal the hole shot and Ryuta Kobayashi’s unexpected outside line attack that put him on P2. Stuck in P3 temporarily, Fujiwara lost no time in putting Kobayashi in his place but Azlan continued to lead for the next four laps. On Lap 5, Fujiwara successfully took over P1, followed by Azlan and Zamri while Kobayashi and Makoto Tamada formed a two-man second group. All five riders were consistently lapping within the low 1:06s band, none were able to break away. More dicing ensued before Azlan blows past Fujiwara to take the lead on Lap 17. As always, the Kawasaki had the front straight advantage but the Honda was smoother at the corners. Fujiwara was not about to back down but Azlan cooly continues to control the race pace, ignoring a persistent Fujiwara at his back. At Turn 1 in the final lap, the aggressive Azlan and Fujiwara came close to contact point before Fujiwara finally backed down. The 25 lap-race ended with Azlan becoming the first Malaysian to win a SuperSports 600cc race in Sepang with a time of 27:41.697s. Fujiwara had to be contented in second place, lagging by 1.009s. PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha’s Mohd Zamri Baba completed a solo race in third place with 27:44.006s. Race 2 took place in ‘cooler’ conditions, with track temperature only reaching 35 degrees Celcius. But the competition hotted up as soon as the 600cc riders got out on grid. This time, Fujiwara stole the hole shot, but lost the lead immediately to a charging Azlan. On Lap 5, Zamri managed to slot himself between Fujiwara and Azlan but lost the position almost immediately when Fujiwara responded in kind. Throughout the nine proceeding laps, it was Azlan vs Fujiwara and Zamri vs Makoto Tamada every step of the way until Zamri started indicating that he was facing an attack by the mechanical gremlins. The Malaysian rider was forced to retire on Lap 17, and from that point onwards, Makoto Tamada just had to pace steadily in third place. Up front, the Fujiwara/Azlan battle intensified. Already racing on worn tyres and sliding all over the track, Azlan still took the battle to Fujiwara, with both riders brushing up against each other at every turn. At the chequered flag, it was Fujiwara who sped ahead with a 0.065s gap, winning the second race with a total time of 27:40.417s. Azlan finished second with 27:40.482s. Third-placed Tamada stopped the clock at 27:46.399s. “Both races were equally tough and we seemed to have a tough time getting the right settings for this round. It was only in Race 2 that the bike really felt comfortable to me. Indonesia will be an important round for everyone and I guess we will just have to do this all over again in three weeks time,” shrugged Fujiwara. Both riders are now tied in the lead with 45 points apiece. Tamada who finished fifth in Race 1 and third in Race 2 is third overall with 27 points followed by Ryuta Kobayashi ranked fourth with 26 points and Tomoyoshi Koyama fifth with 20 points. Round 2 will take place at the Sentul International Circuit from May 17 to 19, 2013. AFIF LEADS BUT MASAKI IS THE TALK OF THE PADDOCK In the Underbone 115cc class, Ahmad Afif Amran with factory team PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha ended the day as overall winner, but it was team SCK’s 13-year-old Kazuki Masaki who became the talk of the paddock with an unbelievable performance in Race 1. Starting the race from second row, Masaki, who is officially racing in his second ever Underbone race, snuck into the lead and proceeded to carve out a gap ahead of the chasing pack. By Lap 6, Masaki was already two seconds ahead with the gap increasing with every single lap. Behind the debutant, the seniors Rozaiman Said, Hadi Wijaya, Amirul Ariff Musa, and Norizman Ismail, all podium regulars in the Underbone class, were left in his dust scrambling for the last two podium positions. Masaki ended the 14-lap race with a time of 19:44.188s, 5.032s worth of daylight between him and second placed Hadi Wijaya. Ahmad Afif Amran finished third with 19:49.251s. “I never expected this to happen but when I found myself in front of the group, I just put my head down and kept going,” said a delighted Masaki who became the first Japanese rider to ever win an Underbone race. However, the 13-year-old was unable to repeat his feat in Race 2 although he did stay with the leading pack. Masaki found himself swallowed up by the horde in the final lap while Afif, Hadi and Affendi Rosli slipstreamed their way to the podium. Afif clocked 19:44.791s, Hadi 19:44.825s while Affendi Rosli third with 19:44.833s. In the process, Hadi logged a new lap record at Sepang – 1:22.415s during the final mad rush to the finish line. Afif is the current leader after Round 1 with 41 points while the defending champion is ranked second with 40 points and Masaki third with 34 points. NO SURPRISES AS ONO TAKES THE DOUBLE After being the dominating force in the Asia Dream Cup all weekend, it would come as no surprise that both Race 1 and Race 2 were easy wins for Hiroki Ono. The 2012 vice champion won Race 1 with 18:50.498s and Race 2 with 20:13.212s. But it was the superb performance of the new riders that stole the limelight in the season opening leg. In Race 1, Thai duo Jakkrit Swangswat and Kanatat Jaiman trailed Ono to the chequered flag in second and third places with times of 18:56.245s and 19:04.894s respectively. Conditions were a lot trickier in Race 2 with rain coming down in some parts of the track, leaving it half wet and half dry. Under such slippery conditions, many of the more inexperienced riders slid out of the race. With Ono up in front, Malaysia’s Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali also had a relatively easy ride in second place. Behind the leading riders, newcomer Khairul Idham Pawi who is only in his second full season of professional racing, impressed everyone when he first forced Reitoku Kurogi into an error and then pipped Indonesia’s Gerry Salim to third place. After Round 1, Ono is in the lead with maximum points, followed by Fitri with 33 points and Khairul Idham with 24 points. Results: SuperSports 600cc Race 1: 1.Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Honda) 27’41.697s 2.Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) 27’42.706s 3.Mohd Zamri Baba (Yamaha) 27.44.006s 4.Ryuta Kobayashi (Honda) 27’47.911s 5.Makoto Tamada (Honda) 27’47.950s Race 2: 1.Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) 27’40.417s 2.Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Honda) 27’40.482s 3.Makoto Tamada (Honda) 27’46.399s 4.Ryuta Kobayashi (Honda) 27’51.040s 5.Tomoyoshi Koyama (Honda) 27’57.161s Overall Standings: 1.Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Honda) 45 points 2.Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) 45 points 3.Makoto Tamada (Honda) 27 points 4.Ryuta Kobayashi (Honda) 26 points 5.Tomoyoshi Koyama (Honda) 20 points Team Standings: 1.BEET Kawasaki Racing 45 points 2.Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing 45 points 3.Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia 26 points 4.NTS Japan T.Pro Innovation 20 points 5.Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing 18 points Underbone 115cc Race 1: 1.Kazuki Masaki (Honda) 19’44.188s 2.Hadi Wijaya (Yamaha) 19’49.220s 3.Ahmad Afif Amran (Yamaha) 19’49.251s 4.Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki) 19’50.153s 5.Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa (Honda) 19’50.239s Race 2: 1.Ahmad Afif Amran (Yamaha) 19’44.791s 2.Hadi Wijaya (Yamaha) 19’44.825s 3.Mohd Affendi Rosli (Honda) 19’44.833s 4.Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki) 19’45.115s 5.Ferlando Herdian (Yamaha) 19’45.319s Overall Standings: 1.Ahmad Afif Amran (Yamaha) 41 points 2.Hadi Wijaya (Yamaha) 40 points 3.Kazuki Masaki (Honda) 34 points 4.Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki) 26 points 5.Ferlando Herdian (Yamaha) 21 points Team Standings: 1.PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha 41 points 2.Harian Metro Y-TEQ SKC Honda Racing 41 points 3.R9 Racing Team 40 points 4.Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech 26 points 5.Givi Honda Yuzy Pachie 21 points Asia Dream Cup Race 1: 1.Hiroki Ono (JPN) 18’50.498s 2.Jakkrit Swangswat (THA) 18’56.245s 3.Kanatat Jaiman (THA) 19’04.894s 4.Fitri Ashraf Razali (MAS) 19’05.765s 5.Reitoku Kurogi (JPN) 19’16.237s Race 2: 1.Hiroki Ono (JPN) 20’13.212s 2.Fitri Ashraf Razali (MAS) 20’25.920s 3.Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS) 20’35.839s 4.Gerry Salim (INA) 20’35.870s 5.Zhou Sheng Jun Jie (CHN) 21’21.673s Overall Standings: 1.Hiroki Ono (JPN) 50 points 2.Fitri Ashraf Razali (MAS) 33 points 3.Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS) 24 points 4.Gerry Salim (INA) 22 points 5.Kanatat Jaiman (THA) 21 points
©2020, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.