■Race: 2017 Asia Road Racing Championship Rd. 04
■Location: Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia
■Date: August 12, 2017
■Race Condition: Dry
■PP: Md Zaqhwan Zaidi (1'29.628/Honda)
■FL: Dimas Ekky Pratam (1'30.203/Honda)
■PP: Gerry Salim (1'42.802/Honda)
■FL: Gerry Salim (1'43.400/Honda)
■Date: Augest 13, 2017
■Race Condition: Dry & Wet
■PP: Md Zaqhwan Zaidi (1'29.628/Honda)
■FL: Anthony West (1'37.414/Yamaha)
■PP: Gerry Salim (1'42.802/Honda)
■FL: Andi Farid Izdiha (1'42.963/Honda)
SS600: Kraisart Notches First Win in Race 2 as Polamai Finishes 3rd
The second half of the 2017 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) got underway in Indonesia after a two-month hiatus following the previous round in Suzuka, Japan. The Yamaha Racing Team's Yuki Ito (#76) came into this weekend 2nd in the standings and 19 points adrift of the championship leader after clawing his way back up in the points in first half of the season. That made this round very important for his chances at a comeback championship victory.
Ito steadily improved his times right from the first practice session, but despite setting a personal best time in qualifying, it was only good enough for 7th and a start from the third row. Even so, being only half a second slower than pole position meant he headed into Race 1 with the pace to challenge at the front.
However, Ito was unable to make up several places as he usually does at the start and he came across the line in 8th after the first lap. He was in the second group around one second behind the lead group of five machines. He quickly made his way into 7th, pushing his machine to stick to the rear of Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's Chalermpol Polamai (#65). As Ito and Polamai together tried to close in on the tail of the lead group, Ito had a lowside just after entering a corner. He immediately rushed to his machine and got running again, but a huge gap had already formed to the leaders. That did not stop Ito from putting in a strong effort to make up places. A few crashes and accidents further up the field helped him to a 15th place finish, allowing him to pick up a single point. Looking at this season's championship standings however, it was a major points loss for the Japanese rider.
The top-finishing YZF-R6 was Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's Decha Kraisart (#24). He was part of the lead group, alternating between 4th and 5th position in the opening laps. Keeping a keen eye on the riders in front of him for any mistakes or gaps, he quickly took advantage of openings and worked his way up to 2nd by the middle stages. Following that, he both gained and lost positions in his charge for the podium, but in the closing laps he began losing ground and eventually took the checkers in 5th.
Ito's teammate Keminth Kubo (#64) started from 16th on the grid. He completed his first lap in 15th, before gradually working his way up the order. With the help of a few riders in front of him dropping out, he finished 9th and took his third top-10 finish of the season.
The second and final SuperSports 600 (SS600) race of the weekend went rather unexpectedly. Three laps into the race, Honda's Zaqwan Zaidi crashed and the race was red-flagged. Then right after all the riders had made their way back to the pits, a sudden burst of rainfall changed the conditions from dry to very wet. The race was then restarted with the riders lining up in the order they had been running before the red flag.
Polamai was on pole position for the restart and took the holeshot to lead the race. But the point of focus was not him, but rather his teammate Kraisart. He lost the lead to Kawasaki's Ahmad Yudhistira (#33) in the opening laps, but even in conditions so challenging that huge water sprays were being kicked up from the machines, Kraisart kept up an aggressive pace to take over at the front on lap four. Even after doing so he did not let up as he proceeded to open a gap to the trailing riders. Riding alone and unchallenged at the front, he put in a steady, controlled ride to take the checkers and his first win of the season.
Polamai fell back to 3rd as he was passed by Yudhistira, but maintained his position until the end to take a podium finish in 3rd. Ito, who had been looking to recover from his Race 1 crash with a strong performance in Race 2, got a slow start but came back strong and made up positions, getting as high as 4th. But towards the end of the race, his pace dropped off drastically and he finished in 7th. Kubo's lack of experience in wet conditions contributed to a 13th place finish. Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin (#27), who raced in the AP250 class last season and currently competes in the CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship, came across the line in a strong 4th in his wildcard ride.
AP250: Pratama Takes 5th in Race 1 and Anupab Secures 4th in Race 2
This was the season's only round in Indonesia, so there were several Indonesian Yamaha riders looking for podium results at their home round--none more so than the Yamaha Racing Indonesia team--and they made their intentions clear in qualifying. The team's Reynaldo Chrisantho Ratukore (#222) set the 3rd fastest time on the opening day of the weekend, before setting the 2nd fastest time in morning qualifying on Day 2 to secure a front row start for the races. Behind him, Indonesian local Imanuel Putra Pratna (#96) of the Yamaha Traxx-D TJM Bien Racing team took 4th to qualify on the second row.
Race 1 saw Yamaha Racing Indonesia's young star Galang Hendra Pratama (#99) and the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's Anupab Sarmoon (#500), who has represented Yamaha on the podium several times this season, clash with a group of strong rivals.
The battle played out from the very first lap until the very last. Sarmoon and Pratama were locked in 5th and 6th places in the second group from the front and a few seconds behind the leaders. Though they were unable to get to the front of the group, they kept up the pace and diced with their rivals on all-new machines for this season. Sarmoon made it up to 4th by the middle of the race, but was quickly passed again leaving him in 5th. The same situation would continue up until the final lap, in which Pratama made a spirited move on Sarmoon. After that he would push to get higher, but ended in 5th at the finish line with Sarmoon behind him in 6th.
Sarmoon has been the only Yamaha rider to stand on the podium in the AP250 class at the previous three rounds of the season, and lined up on the grid planning to defeat his rivals. Starting from 6th, he left them behind as he shot to the front. Local riders Pratna and Pratama followed behind, but the pace of the leaders proved to be too fast and they fell back, forming part of a second trailing group. That left Sarmoon in the lead group to fight against three other riders by himself.
Sarmoon lost positions and fell back to 4th at the tail of the group before he mounted a comeback in the middle stages, lining up alongside three riders on the straight and passing them all to take the lead in a determined show of riding skill. But his run at the front was short lived as his rivals quickly fought back. But he kept at it, holding firm and waiting for a chance as he ticked off more laps. But the three others' defenses were solid and kept him from being able to break into the podium positions. In the end he took the checkers in 4th, but succeeded in improving his overall position in the championship rankings from 3rd to 2nd.
Meanwhile, local talents Pratna and Pratama had worked their way through the pack only to be repassed and relegated to the third group. But following that, the two battled it out for 6th and 7th, with Pratna emerging the victor and taking 6th at the line.
UB150: Yamaha Riders Sweep the Podium in Both Races
The pair of Underbone 150 (UB150) races saw the top places change frequently in a free-for-all that lasted until the final lap, as has been the norm in races in the class. In the midst of this, Yamaha riders were able to stay calm and hang onto the top positions. In the final corner of the last lap, five Yamaha riders lined up abreast as they aimed for the finish line. Coming out on top was Md Akid Aziz of the UMA Racing Yamaha Maju Motor team, a rider who took part in the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp held in May. And behind him were two fellow Yamaha riders, making for an all-Yamaha podium sweep.
Race 2 was a free-for-all from the beginning. Yamaha Racing Indonesia's Wahyu Aji Trilaksana (#60) and Yamaha VR46 Master Camp participant Anngi Setiawan (#96) held steady in the top positions as the race went on. But the real decider was the straight after the final corner of the last lap. Mastering it was the local Indonesian rider and wildcard Richard Tororeh (#179) of the Yamaha Yamalube Justi Purra Usaha Jaya 549 Kaboci team. Behind him were the ONEXOX TKKR Racing Team's Md. Helmi Azman (#55) and Trilaksana, completing an all-Yamaha podium for the second time in the weekend.
Yamaha Racing Team
#76 Yuki Ito (15th/7th)
"All I can say about this weekend's result is that it's frustrating. The weekend didn't start out badly at all, but I qualified down in 7th. I was looking to start farther up the grid, so that's where my troubles began. I was really focused on the race starts in particular, so in both races that's where I ended up making mistakes. In Race 1 I tried too hard to make up for that mistake and crashed. And then in the wet Race 2, I also made a mistake at the start. I managed to recover to 4th, but in the last couple laps I went into protection mode and lost a few places. If there is a silver lining it's that I didn't lose too many points to give up on the championship, and I don't think my pace was that far off the leaders. Madras is a place where I have experience and I've run at the front, so I'm planning to fight back there with my eye on the championship. I'm counting on everyone to cheer for me while I do!"
#64 Keminth Kubo (9th/13th)
"This was my first time riding at this circuit and I didn't qualify as well as I'd wanted to, but I was still able to improve my times in the lead up to the races. In Race 1 I made a lot of mistakes but in the end took a top-10 finish. Considering our current potential I think this was a result we can be happy with. Before Race 2 I set a good time in the morning warmup, so if it would have been dry I was thinking I could have fought with the leaders. But the race was red-flagged and then the rain fell. To be honest I tensed up after that and made some mistakes, but in the second half I upped my pace and rode as hard as I could for my current level. The next race is also at a circuit that's new to me, but my performance over a race weekend has clearly gotten better, so I'll try to have a better outing than this one and aim for the top positions!"
Team Manager Toru Koseki
"Though Kubo's final results do matter in the end, being able to transition smoothly from the first day to the end of Race 2 has been one of this season's issues. He had an injury coming into this round that I was worried about, but he was able to improve his times in every session and finish in the top 10 in Race 1. The conditions suddenly changed to wet for Race 2 and he though couldn't adapt well, but he stayed on the bike and finished the race. But in these past four rounds, there has been a distinct gap between when things are going well and when they aren't, so a clear goal at the next round in India will be to make steady improvements starting from the first day in order to take a good result. Ito on the other hand was doing really well up until qualifying; he couldn't set a fast time and ended up on the 3rd row of the grid. Then he couldn't do one of his flying starts and since there wasn't much of a difference in pace with the leaders, he had to use his energy trying to catch up, so that ended up being a negative. But we haven't given up. At the next round in India we'll run the weekend at our own pace just like we did in Japan, and aim for a turnaround fight for the championship."
Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
#24 Decha Kraisart (5th/1st)
"We made a big change to the front fork and rear suspension settings to get ready for Race 2. So I was really feeling good from the morning warmup and I was confident that the podium was within reach. Then race conditions suddenly changed with a red flag and then to a wet track, but I have experience with Dunlop's wet tires and I've have a lot of experience racing in the All Japan championship, so I was confident and we were able to get the win. I've raced and won before at the next track in Madras in India, but there are a lot of factors we're not sure of, like the state of the asphalt. So I'll focus and go out to try my hardest for the best result possible."
#65 Chalermpol Polamai (DNF/3rd)
"My plan in Race 2 after the red flag and the rain was to run with the lead group, but in the first few laps I was actually in the lead. But it was wet and the track was bumpy, so I tried to ride without taking any risks but that let Decha and the others past me. Of course winning was my goal, but the conditions were very tricky so I'm satisfied with making the podium. I've ridden in India before although it was a long time ago, but with the track surface and more, it's a difficult course. It will be hot, so I think it will be a really tough race, but I plan to do my best to shoot for the podium."
Theerapong Opaskornkul, Senior General Manager of Sales & Marketing Support
"We had a fantastic result in Race 2. We were shooting for the podium in the AP250 class but Sarmoon finished in 4th. Of course we can't be satisfied with that result, but we were in the fight for the win at an 'away round' and I think we did a really good job. It was a big 4th place for us. In SS600, luck was also on our side. The red flag came out and just then the rain fell. For our two vastly experienced riders, this was a big chance. Kraisart and Polamai have a lot of experience in the All Japan championship racing in all kinds of conditions, and it was Kraisart who put that to use in taking the win, while Polamai finished 4th. It was a really fantastic race!"