■Race: 2016 Asia Road Racing Championship Rd. 01
■Location: Johor Circuit, Malaysia
■Date: April 1, 2016
■Race Condition: Dry
■Air: 36 C ■Track: 54 C
■Laps: 16 (61.760 km)
■PP: Md Zaqhwan Zaidn(1'31.016/Honda)
■FL: Anucha Narkcharoensri(1'32.715/Yamaha)
■Laps: 12 (46.320 km)
■PP: Apiwat Wongthananon (1'44.959/Yamaha)
■FL: Takehiro Yamamoto (1'45.749/Kawasaki)
■Date:1st April 2016
■Air: 36 C ■Track: 54 C
■Laps: 16 (61.760km)
■PP: Md Zaqhwan Zaidn (1'31.016/Honda)
■FL: Gerry Salim (1'32.224/Honda)
■Laps: 12 (46.320 km)
■PP: Apiwat Wongthananon (1'44.959/Yamaha)
■FL: Anupab Sarmoon (1'45.658/Yamaha)
SS600: Difficult Opening Races for Yamaha Racing Team
AP250: Yamaha Thailand Racing Team Completes Double Podium Sweep!
The 2016 season of the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC), which will take place over six rounds in five Asian countries, kicked off at the Johor Circuit in Malaysia. The Championship’s premier class, the SuperSports 600 (SS600) class featured Yuki Ito and Md Fitri Ashraff Razali aboard the YZF-R6 in the newly formed Yamaha Racing Team. The weekend’s schedule saw Qualifying and Race 1 held on Friday, while Race 2 was held on Saturday. The Yamaha riders had a tough season opener as Razali finished 12th and 16th, while Ito finished 15th and 17th.
Sixteen laps of the season’s first race got under way a mere two hours after Friday’s qualifying session. 21-year-old Razali, contesting his third season in the SS600 class, qualified in 17th position, placing him the middle of the sixth row on the grid. He made a good start and improved one position on lap two by passing his teammate Ito for 16th. On lap five he moved one position further forward, tailing the second large group of veteran riders battling for 5th. In the end he improved one position further to finish in 12th.
Meanwhile, Ito had trouble finding an ideal machine setup before the start and had a difficult race. After being passed by Razali, he tried to stick with the second group but was unable to do so. He slowly drifted backwards throughout the remainder of the race, but due to the riders in front of him crashing out was able to hang on and finish in 15th.
The top-finishing Yamaha was that of Akeno Speed WJR Racing Team’s Anthony Keith West in 7th. Anucha Narkcharoensr of the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team finished 10th as his teammate Decha Kraisart crashed on the 12th lap while battling for 5th at the front of the second group of riders.
Kawasaki’s Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, who led from the first lap and did not relinquish his position a single time, was the first to the checkers in Race 1.
Race 1 of the Asia Production 250 (AP250) class was held just before the SS600 race. The starting grid saw a shakeup as 21 riders were penalized for riding slowly on the racing line while looking for the best chance to set a fast lap during qualifying. This meant Yamaha Thailand Racing Team’s Apiwat Wongthananon, who had set the fastest time of the session with 1’44.959, was demoted to the 8th spot on the grid. This then allowed third-fastest qualifier Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin of the FINSON Yamaha Racing Team to start from pole position. The Yamaha riders did not let the penalty affect their performance however, as they put on a fantastic display of teamwork in the race. Wongthanon took the win for the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team aboard the YZF-R25 as his teammates followed him to finish in 2nd and 3rd, making a complete sweep of the podium.
Razali was off to a positive start on Saturday morning as he set the second quickest time in the warm-up session, but things took a turn for the worse as he suffered a fall in the closing minutes. This had a big effect on his race, as he made a decent start but had trouble pushing to make up time. He was unable to pass the riders in front of him, but did manage to hang on to the back of the fourth group of riders and finish in 16th.
After Race 1, Yuki Ito made plans to contest Race 2 with completely new settings for his machine, but the new settings were not enough to cure everything for him, and he struggled in the race before finishing one position behind his teammate Razali in 17th.
The top-placed Yamaha was once again Anthony West, who got a good start and at one point was running in 4th positon before slowly fading back to 8th by the end of the race. Yamaha Thailand Racing Team’s Decha Kraisart also made a solid start and got involved in the battle for the top six positions before eventually finishing in 12th. His teammate Anucha Narkcharoensr crashed out with only two laps remaining and was unable to rejoin the race.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman battled with Honda riders Yuki Takahashi and Zaqhwan Zaidi for podium positions before taking the lead near the end of the race and staying there to take the checkers and a double victory.
In the AP250 class, the YZF-R25-mounted Yamaha Thailand Racing Team accomplished a brilliant feat by sweeping the podium a second time. The grid lined up according to qualifying times, as no penalties were applied to the second race, meaning that Apiwat Wongthananon could start the race from pole position. Once under way, he formed the lead group consisting of teammates Peerapong Loiboonpeng and Anupab Sarmoon, fellow Yamaha rider Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin and Kawasaki’s Takehiro Yamamoto. The group battled fiercely throughout the race, swapping positions often. In the closing stages, the three Thai riders pulled out a slight lead and went on to finish in the same order they had in Race 1 with Wongthananon in 1st, Loiboonpeng in 2nd and Sarmoon in 3rd.
Md Izzat Zaidi of the RCB KAGE MotoBatt YAMAHA YY Pang team took a win for Yamaha in Race 2 of the Underbone 130 (UC130) class.
The next event will kick off on May 8th at the Buriram Circuit in Thailand.
SuperSports 600 Class
Yamaha Racing Team
Md Fitri Ashraff Razali (12th/16th)
“I wasn’t able to fulfill my goal of finishing in the top 10, but I did accomplish one other goal I had for the weekend of setting a lap time in the 1’32s. I built up my confidence bit-by-bit with each outing on the bike. However, my crash in the morning warm-up caused my confidence to take a hit. I think my race pace wasn’t far off that of the leaders, but even though I was able to stick to the back of riders that passed me, they were all veterans and it was much more difficult trying to pass them. The next round will be at the Buriram Circuit, which is a very tight course with a lot of ‘stop and go’ sections. I want to improve, so I’ll be stepping up my training and bike testing, and working closely with my teammate Yuki to share data in preparation for the next round.”
Yuki Ito (15th/17th)
“Even though the team and machine were completely revamped for this season and we didn’t carry over any of last year’s data, I feel like the results in the races were all down to my insufficient performance. I wasn’t able to find the best setup, so I couldn’t connect my desire to push forward with the machine’s real capability, which was particularly tough in Race 2. I plan on training hard and getting some testing work done before the next round. I also think I need to study and better understand each part on our new bike. I’m definitely not satisfied with these results, and I feel like I have the ability to aim much higher than I did this weekend. Also, a race isn’t something you can win alone. We have to compete and up our strengths as a team, and since the ARRC’s level keeps getting higher every year I know this won’t be an easy road. For now my aim is to stand on the podium alongside Fitri. At the next round my objective will be the same as always: to win. I also hope any of my success as a Japanese rider will help to increase the ARRC’s popularity and familiarity in Japan.”
Michael Chai, Team Manager, Motorsports Development
“Though it can certainly be said that the level in the ARRC is higher than last year, the goal for both of our riders was to finish in the top 10, so the results are disappointing. We’re feeling the effects of a lack of preparation. Both riders’ lap times were not that bad in the race, and the gap to the top positions was rather small. However, the situation is that this small gap is built up over the course of the race to become a large gap. This is a brand new team, so we want to deepen the communication between the riders, mechanics and staff as we train and prepare for the next round. We’re aiming to be in the top 5 in Thailand, so please continue to lend your support to the Yamaha Racing Team.”
Asia Production 250 Class
Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
Apiwat Wongthananon (1st/1st)
“The unbelievable achievement of our team sweeping the podium in both races was all thanks to the hard work of our mechanics, riders and staff. It’s really a victory for our entire team. Race 1 was our very first race of the season and we started off with a bang, taking pole position before receiving a penalty that pushed us back to 8th place on the grid. It was a really thrilling and exciting race for us. Then, in Race 2 we were able to start from pole position and run a calculated race, and always keep an eye on what was going on around us. The next event will be on home turf for us in Thailand. I have no doubt that our rivals will not take this result lying down and will bring their top game there. So, we’ll work to get our machines in good order, train hard, take advantage of our local circuit knowledge, and our signature Thai teamwork to put on a repeat of this weekend’s fantastic performance.”
Theerapong Opaskornkul, Senior General Manager of Sales & Marketing Support
“I think our double podium sweep here was not down to just our own abilities; I think we had a bit of luck on our side as well. Getting great results inspires and motivates the riders, mechanics and team management to work harder to achieve even better results. The riders are all saying that they have faith in the R25’s engine, and with all the data and experience we collected last season along with some new parts for this season that are working well, I really feel like the R25’s competiveness has taken a major step forward. In preparation for our home race in Thailand, we plan to have our riders engaged in motocross training and testing as soon as we get back. We’ll shoot for another double podium sweep with a further-improved team at the next round.”