- Asia Road Racing Championship Round 3, Japan
- Supersports 600cc / Asia Production 250cc
- Date: 3 June, 2018
- Circuit: Suzuka Circuit (5.821 km)
A Win for Azlan in Race1 and Double Podiums for Yudhistira!
Fadly Picks Up Second Podium of the Season at Suzuka.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ahmad Yudhistira made a strong comeback in a very big way at Round 3 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
Starting the race from the coveted pole position, Azlan got off to a cracking start to steal the holeshot. However, the Kawasaki rider’s tyre management strategy meant that he had to ride conservatively in the first half of the SuperSports 600cc race. Opting to stay within the leading group, Azlan allowed Anthony West, Yuki Ito and Ratthapong Wilairot to steal the limelight in the first four laps.
By Lap 5, Yudhistira had improved on his race position from P8 to reach the leading group. With Yudhistira in tow, Azlan finally made a bid for the lead. The two Kawasakis used their superior top speed to swarm past a hapless West down the front straight. As the three riders duked it out, Yudhis rushed into the lead from Lap 7 to Lap 10. However, the punishing pace that Yudhis had had to keep up moving from P8 to P1 had exhausted the threads on his tyres. By Lap 10, the Indonesian rider had begun to experience front end chatter.
Azlan Shah, who had an easier time in Race 1, stormed past his team mate to take the lead on Lap 11. With a clear piece of track ahead of them, Azlan and Yudhis raced to a jubilant 1-2 finish with 29’09.539s and 29’10.177s respectively.
The third and final day for Round 3 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship dawned clear and bright, with ambient and track temperatures rising to its highest point during the week. Both Azlan and Yudhis again got off to a clean start but found their momentum disrupted when a crash by Patrick Li brought out the red flag on Lap 1.
The riders re-assembled for a quick restart but the original 13-lap race was shortened to just 10. Once again, Azlan shot off from pole position and into the lead.
The shortened race length called for a completely different strategy in the SuperSports 600cc race. The pace was faster throughout as Azlan fought against Yuki Ito, Ratthapong Wilairot, Anthony West and Keminth Kubo. Meanwhile, Yudhistira again had to fight his way steadily up the field. It took the Indonesian rider four laps to reach the leading group.
On Lap 5, Yudhis slipstreamed his way to the front of the pack and spent the remaining five laps immersed in a no-holds-barred battle against Anthony West, Keminth Kubo, and Yuki Ito. When the chequered flag finally came down on Lap 10, a delighted Yudhistira picked up his second podium of the weekend in third with 22’22.408s. Race 2 was won by West followed by Kubo in second place.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, on the other hand, ended the race in a conservative fifth place.
On the other hand, all the hard work preparing the brand new Kawasaki Ninja 250 has begun to come together for the team as Indonesian rider Andy Muhammad Fadly continues to show improvements by leaps and bounds.
As the lights went off for the start of Race 1, Fadly found himself bottled up in the chasing group, fighting for P2 against Mukhlada Sarapuech, Awhin Sanjaya, Mario Suryo Aji and Anupab Sarmoon. Riding without the benefit of a team mate, Fadly gamely maintained his position within the top-5. By the final lap, Fadly had placed himself in good position to challenge for P2. However, he braked too deep into the last corner and unfortunately crashed out of the group. A disappointed Fadly eventually limped home in P30.
In Race 2, intent on making up for the disappointing results from Race 1, Fadly was back looking strong and determined. As poleman Rheza peeled away from the group at the start of the race, Fadly was once again fighting against familiar foes – Mario Suryo Aji, Awhin Sanjaya, Rey Ratukore and Anupab Sarmoon – for the remaining two spots on the podium.
This time around, Fadly had not allowed his desires to stand on the Suzuka podium to get away from him. Instead, he rode a cool and calculated race, tucked in within the chasing pack. The Kawasaki rider waited until Lap 6 before he made his move. As Mario, Awhin and Anupab swarmed around him, Fadly held on to P3 right up to the chequered flag to claim his second Asia Production 250cc podium of the season.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman：
“We came to Suzuka confident that we already had the base setup in hand. A lot of work has gone into improving our suspension setup for Sector 1 and Sector 2, as well as enhancing our engine mapping for the front straight.
I went out on hard compound tyres for both Race 1 and Race 2. My tyre management strategy for both races were always the same – to keep the tyre fresh until the last five laps.
Race 1 went perfectly to script and I was so glad and relieved to have ended my run of bad luck at the Suzuka Circuit. I really like this circuit but I’ve not have good memories here. I broke my leg at this circuit in 2016 and broke my finger in 2017.
The win in Race 1 was just the impetus I needed to keep my title hopes alive and it was all the sweeter that it was my first SuperSports 600cc win at this iconic circuit.
However, throughout the race weekend, our team’s biggest concern had been the fluctuating weather conditions. True enough, the rising temperatures in Race 2 caused my engine to change its character and even though the race was shortened to 10 laps, it was still a challenge for me.”
H A Yudhistira：
“Starting the race from third row was good enough for me to stay in touch with the race leaders, but it also meant a lot of hard riding to get into the front group. In Race 1 for example, I tried to push into the lead early as I did not want to fight too much with the rest of the riders. But Azlan easily raced past me in the closing laps as he seemd to have more tyre while mine had started to spin. That was why I settled in to P2.
The same thing happened in Race 2 except that the race rhythm was even more punishing due to the red flag. Everyone was in a hurry to get to the front but nobody was able to break away. Like Azlan, my engine also felt different due to the heat but I was still able to make the bike work enough to finish third.
In all, I am really happy with my double podium here at the Suzuka Circuit and I’m looking forward to India for the next round of the championship.”
Andy Muhammad Fadly：
“The new bike has continued to improve with each successive round. While I was satisfied with my laptimes from the free practice session, I knew that we had to find more speed if we wanted to challenge the championship leader.
The bike was much improved for the Qualifying Practice session and I was also lucky to find a clear piece of track that gave me the chance to qualify for the front row.
Race 1 was a very difficult race for me, bottled up in the second group. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard at the last chicane and I was really upset with myself over that silly mistake. Race 2 was just as challenging. I was trying to push the limit of what I could achieve and almost made the same mistake at Turn 16. I was able to catch the error in time, but that mistimed split second had allowed Mario to pull a small gap ahead of me. We came close to a photo finish but in the end, I lost out to him by 0.198 seconds.
In all, I am happy with P3 from Race 2. This is my second podium at the Suzuka Circuit. The first was during the Suzuka 4 Hours Endurance last year.”
Katsuaki Fujiwara, Team Coach:
“I would like to say a big thank you to our team engineers and riders for a fantastic weekend at the Suzuka Circuit. We took home one win and three podium finishes in the Asia Production 250cc and SuperSports 600cc classes which is a huge achievement.
Step by step, team Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing will continue to improve. Our aim is to have all our riders challenging for the title in the near future.
Honestly, in my opinion, Fadly’s crash in Race 1 was not his fault. He was doing his job as a rider, which was to push the limits of his bike. The team applauded him when he returned to the pit because we all knew that he crashed out while fighting against himself.
I am really pleased to see how much Fadly has improved from the beginning of the season to the third round. Thanks to his hard work and that of our team engineers, the Kawasaki Ninja 250 reached its podium potential within three short rounds.”
|1||25||Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman||Kawasaki|
|5||21||Md Zaqhwan Zaidi||Honda|
|13||20||Azroy Hakeem Anuar||Honda|
|14||127||Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin||Yamaha|
|17||66||Muhammad Ibrahim Norrodin||Kawasaki|
|18||80||Md Afiq Azmi||Yamaha|
|5||25||Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman||Kawasaki|
|6||27||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda|
|9||21||Md Zaqhwan Zaidi||Honda|
|13||127||Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin||Yamaha|
|14||20||Azroy Hakeem Anuar||Honda|
|15||32||Md Ramdan Rosli||Yamaha|
|17||80||Md Afiq Azmi||Yamaha|
|19||66||Muhammad Ibrahim Norrodin||Kawasaki|
|20||92||Md Muzakkir Mohamed||Yamaha|