Race 1: Parkes Takes 3rd in Class Debut, Ito Suffers DNF
The 2019 ARRC season kicked off at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. In the newly introduced ASB1000 class, Broc Parkes (#23) and Yuki Ito (#76) make up Yamaha Racing Team ASEAN while the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team has last season's SS600 Champion Ratthapark Wilairot (#56) and 2016 AP250 Champion Apiwath Wongthananon (#24). All four pilot the YZF-R1 in a class where the highest-calibre riders in the Asia-Pacific region come together to do battle.
It was Parkes who made an excellent start to the race weekend. He set the overall fastest free practice time on the first day, and although he crashed in the latter half of the qualifying session, he still managed to be the fastest Yamaha in 6th. Behind him was his teammate Ito in 7th, while Wongthananon secured 8th and Wilairot 10th.
Race 1 took place under clear skies with the Malaysian sun beating down on the track. Wongthananon got a strong start to slot into 3rd on the first lap, with Parkes, Wilairot, and Ito, occupying 5th through 7th, respectively. This put each of them in a strong position to challenge for the lead. The two riders at the front, Kawasaki's Thitipong Warokorn (#100) and BMW's Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (#25), set a high pace from the start and gradually opened a gap. When Honda's Md Zaqhwan Zaidi (#21) ran off course while in 4th, Parkes saw an opportunity and upped his pace, catching and passing Wongthananon for 3rd in the process.
Meanwhile Ito was running a nearly identical pace to Parkes in 5th, but on lap 5 he suffered a fall and was forced to retire from the race. The second half of the race also saw Wongthananon fade back and miss out on the fight for the podium.
Parkes was setting the same lap times in the 2'06s as the leading duo, but that was not enough to catch them and he eventually finished in 3rd. But taking a podium in the opening race of the weekend and in his series debut was a positive way to get the season started.
Race 2: Ito Takes 3rd with Parkes 5th at Rain-Stricken Sepang
Until the start of Race 2, the Sepang International Circuit was bathed in the hot Malaysian sun, but just before the start of the ASB1000 race the skies suddenly opened, turning it into a wet race. The sudden shift in conditions proved to be no issue for Yuki Ito (#76) however. He started from 7th on the grid but made a fast break at the start to get near the front. Apiwat Wongthananon (#24) was right behind him. The problem was that because the rain was localized, some parts of the circuit were soaking wet while others were relatively dry, making it tricky for the riders. This led to major position changes in the first few laps.
In the midst of this it was BMW's Farid Badrul Hisham (#83) who lead the race. He began to set a fast pace as he glanced over his shoulder at the other riders struggling with the conditions, soon breaking away and opening a gap. Ito was giving it his all and made it into 2nd by lap 3. When Hisham crashed on lap 4 this put Ito into the lead.
Ito's rivals however, were not done yet. Ito had more than a 2-second lead on the riders behind him, but the trailing group had decided to throw caution to the wind and push to catch up. With Ito's tire wearing down, the gap had shrunk to 1.4 seconds by lap 5, and 1.2 seconds by lap 6 as the trailing group of three riders gradually closed in. Honda's Zaidi crashed on lap 9, and on lap 10 Ito was passed by Kawasaki's Warokorn, dropping Ito back. He did not give up until the checkers though, eventually coming across the line in 3rd for a podium finish. It was a solid way to make up for a disappointing Race 1.
Meanwhile, Ito's teammate Broc Parkes (#23) had a difficult start and had to fight back from 11th position. Even so, he steadily made up positions in the tricky conditions, and with riders crashing out in front of him he got up to 6th by the middle stages of the race. From that point he was riding behind Wongthananon. Towards the end even more riders succumbed to the conditions in front of him, further improving his position. At the checkers it was Wongthananon in 4th with Parkes behind him in 5th. Wilairot finished 7th.
Race 1: First Win for Boonlert and First Podium for Kasmayudin
There are three Yamaha entries in the SS600 class, which has shifted its focus from veterans to younger riders. The Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's Peerapong Boonlert looked consistently strong after topping the timesheets in free practice then qualifying on the front row in 2nd. Just behind him in 3rd on the grid was HONG LEONG YAMAHA MALAYSIA's Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin (#127) and his teammate Ahmad Afif Amran (#50) in 5th. The three formed a solid line-up for Yamaha with the goal of defending the championship crown.
Race 1 featured 14 bikes, among which Kasmayudin made a stunning holeshot with Boonlert slotting into 2nd. However, Boonlert caught Kasmayudin on the first lap and made the pass for the lead, making it two R6s leading the way into lap 2.
In the opening stages, the pair were trailed by four machines, but as Boonlert and Kasmayudin set laps in the high-2'10s and the trailing riders were in the 2'11s, the lead two managed to build a gap of around 1 second at mid-race distance. From there, the trailing group upped their pace, but the two at the front did not allow them to close in, instead battling amongst themselves for the win. On lap 8 Boonlert set the fastest lap of the race in a bid to pull away from Kasmayudin, successfully staying in front for the remainder of the race and crossing the line to take his first podium and first ARRC win in his first entry in the class. Kasmayudin stood atop his first SS600 podium in 2nd, making it a fantastic beginning to a title defence for Yamaha.
Race 2: Complete Victory for Boonlert, Kasmayudin Podiums in 3rd
Race 2 saw Peerapong Boonlert (#26) and Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin (#127) once again run strong races, with the two making up a 1-2 formation at the front just as they had in Race 1. Amran was in 5th, but crashed out on lap 2 and could not rejoin.
In the opening stages there were four riders all in close proximity. Boonlert was setting a consistent pace with Kasmayudin falling back to 4th on lap 3. He fought back and retook 3rd on the next lap with a pass on the inside, and did the same move on lap 5 to bring him into 2nd behind Boonlert.
With the riders trailing him setting lap times in the high 2'10s and low 2'11s, Boonlert was setting high 2'10s on nearly every lap which helped him open a gap at the front. In the closing laps, Kasmayudin unfortunately ran off track and dropped back to 5th, putting his podium hopes in doubt. But he was unwilling to give up, rather deciding to push his machine to the limit. His effort paid off as he came back on the final lap to recover 3rd and notch up his second consecutive podium finish.
Boonlert kept up his safe, steady ride at the front, crossing the line before the rest of the field for a fantastic win to cap off a perfect weekend.
Race 1: Faerozi Is Top Yamaha in 5th
The new YZF-R25 saw its first round of ARRC racing action in Malaysia. Forming the YAMAHA Racing Indonesia team is Muhammad Faerozi (#36) and Anggi Setiawan (#96), both graduates of the VR46 Master Camp training programme run by Valentino Rossi's VR46 Riders Academy. The Yamaha Thailand Racing Team is fielding Sawapol Nillapong (#56) and Suttipat Patchaeetron (#86) in the 250cc class.
All four riders struggled in both the free practice sessions and in qualifying, but in Race 1 Faerozi broke into the higher positions to battle with his rivals. He was 8th after lap 1, and although he was left behind by the leading five riders, he held position in the second group and when one of the leading five retired, Faerozi found himself in contention for 5th. The battle saw rider positions swap and change with each lap before coming down to the last corner of the final lap, but in the end Faerozi held on to take a top-five finish in 5th.
Setiawan finished in 13th, Nillapong in 17th, while Patchaeetron, who was the fastest Yamaha in qualifying with 6th, had an unfortunate DNF.
Race 2: Faerozi Fights for Podium but Finishes 5th
As his rivals showed their strengths in Race 2, M Faerozi (#36) was in fine form just as he had been in Race 1. He was the highest placed Yamaha on the first lap in 5th, and just as he had in Race 1 he got involved with the second group from the front in a battle for 5th. He chased after Honda's Awhin Sanjaya (#198) in 4th, hoping to pass him and put himself in position for a podium should anything happen to the leading three.
The middle of the race saw Faerozi pick up the pace as the gap to 4th came down. When one of the riders in the lead group dropped back in the closing laps, Faerozi was locked in a battle for the podium with Sanjaya in front and Kawasaki's Aiki Iyoshi (#37) behind him. In the end he narrowly missed out on a podium with 5th, but in the race he showed the strong potential of the new model YZF-R25, as well as his own ability to fight for podiums.
Elsewhere, Setiawan finished 9th, Nillapong was 12th and Patchaeetron had been running in 6th but crashed near the end and retired from the race.
Race 1: McKinley Kyle Paz Wins as Yamaha Riders Sweep Podium
At previous visits to Sepang, the UB150 race had been run on the short course, but this event saw the full course used for just six laps. Racing for the YAMAHA Racing Indonesia team is Wahyu Nugroho (#89) and Aldi Satya Mahendra (#570), the younger brother of WSSP300 contender Galang Hendra Pratama and Yamaha's youngest rider at 13 years old. Alongside them on track is the UMA RACING YAMAHA PHILIPPINES TEAM, who make their full-time debut this season with McKinley Kyle Paz (#123) and (#17) Masato Fernando.
Eight machines formed a lead group early in Race 1 of which seven were Yamahas, including Mahendra, Paz and Fernando. Paz held off his rivals to win the race, while Fernando took 5th. Mahendra was 7th, but fellow Yamaha riders finished 2nd and 3rd for all-Yamaha podium sweep.
Race 2: Fernando Wins as Kyle Paz takes 3rd
Mahendra, Kyle Paz, and Fernando and Nugroho were all part of the group of eight machines that formed at the front of Race 2. The cut-and-thrust battle that ensued became even more so in the final few laps. Mahendra and Nugroho made contact with other machines which caused them to lose time and fade back.
On the final lap, the remaining riders Kyle Paz and Fernando, both from the Philippines, saved their moves for the final corner. In the end it was Fernando who came out victorious. Kyle Paz finished 3rd to give the UMA RACING YAMAHA PHILIPPINES TEAM their second double podium in a strong opening weekend for the team.
Yamaha Racing Team ASEAN
#23 Broc Parkes (ASB1000: 3rd)
"I crashed in qualifying so the best I could do was 6th. I knew in the race I needed to be close to the fast guys like Azlan and Thitipong, but at the start I couldn't get to where I wanted to be so I had to play catch up. The gap to the front two guys was big and it was all I could do to hold onto 3rd. Getting on the podium was good though, and we got a lot of data we can use to improve for tomorrow's race. Of course, tomorrow we want to be on the podium again and get a win."
#76 Yuki Ito (ASB1000: DNF)
"In qualifying my plan was to use the tyre I'd saved through the free practices and get into the top positions, but the other guys were quick and I just couldn't get it done, so I ended up in 7th. In the first race I was 2nd coming into the first corner but I made a mistake trying to line up a position and dropped back to 7th. In the first few laps the top two were really fast, so at first I set my sights on Apiwat in 3rd. Broc was in front of me too so I wanted to chase him. I did and got into 5th where I could see the fight for 3rd, but I pushed myself too hard and crashed. Not taking any points was really disappointing, but I have a good grasp of my issues and I'll work to better those to be able to aim for the podium in Race 2."
Team Manager Yukihiko Kurata
"Broc had to fight back from a tough position in 6th. I'm disappointed we couldn't fulfil our team's goal of taking a win, but that he could pull through to get on the podium in 3rd is exactly what why Broc is such a strong rider, and for the team it wasn't a finish to be ashamed of. As for Yuki, he unfortunately crashed out. He was upping his pace right along with Broc and went from 7th to 5th, then just when he was looking good he crashed, so it was a disappointing result. But the good thing is that both riders got an idea of what we need to work on. So for Race 2 we'll bounce back to try for a win and a double podium."
Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
#26 Peerapong Boonlert (SS600: 1st)
"My win today was all thanks to the support I've received from everyone on the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team and my family, and I am very thankful to them all. This track is really long and it was hot out there, so I was thinking that tyre management would be important. In the pre-season tests, I was looking for the best riding style to manage my tyre and I think I found it, and that's what helped me take the win. This was my first podium since my debut in the AP250 class in 2015, and it was my first win, so I'm really, really happy. My goal for this season is to be champion, so of course I'll be out for another win in Race 2!"
Team Manager Theerapong Opaskornkul
"Peerapong is a young rider in the Yamaha Thailand Racing Team with a lot of talent. He's had a lot of training and some really good experience like competing in Japan and attending the VR46 Master Camp. But in his full-time ARRC career in 2015, 2017 and 2018 he didn't take a single podium. So with this win at the opening round I feel like his talent has really shown through. In Race 1 he showed some excellent tyre management and ran alone at the front to win. I think this was a display of just how much he has progressed as a rider. His goal for this season should definitely be winning the title. Our team will be behind him 100% in achieving that."
HONG LEONG YAMAHA MALAYSIA
#127 Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin (SS600: 2nd)
"In my season in SS600 last year I didn't qualify or finish in the top 3 all season long. So for me, to qualify in 3rd and finish 2nd on the podium feels like a fantastic achievement. I'm so grateful to my team who worked late into the night and to Yamaha for this opportunity. I was chasing Peerapong and I knew our pace was about the same, so I thought I would have a chance if I rode consistently and didn't make any mistakes. Of course, I'll be trying for another podium tomorrow, but this time I want to close out Round 1 with a win."
Team Manager Sean Wong Hong Siong
"For the team, it was a great start to the season. After making a solid start in the race it was a matter of catching Peerapong. We hung in there until the closing stages and battled but we couldn't keep up with his pace and had to take 2nd. For Kasma Daniel though, it was his first podium in SS600 so it was plenty good enough. We want to win Race 2, but to do so I think we need to improve in sectors 1 and 4. We'll put our heads together to come back strong tomorrow and fight for the victory."
UMA RACING YAMAHA PHILIPPINES TEAM
#123 McKinley Kyle Paz (UB150: 1st)
"I'm so happy we could finish Race 1 with a win and I'm proud to have done it in a competitive field like the ARRC. There were so many fast riders in the race and that made it tough. We fought until the last corner on the last lap and I was able to come through to the front which is how I won. I plan to do my best and aim for another win in Race 2."
Team Manager Cornista Jordan
"We scored an amazing result and for a team like ours in our first full season in ARRC, a win is like a dream come true. Of course, our riders also want to win the championship and this was a huge step towards that. We'll be back in Race 2 looking for another win with the support of the whole team."
YAMAHA RACING TEAM ASEAN
#76 Yuki Ito (ASB1000: 3rd)
"I've never done a wet race on the R1, so I was a bit nervous, but I normally do well in the rain, so I thought the change in conditions would give me a good chance and I went for it. The first half was a mix of wet and dry track, so I was extra careful in the wet and went all out in the dry. The guy in front of me crashed, so I could run my race at the front. I had an issue in the second half because I'd used too much tire in the dry areas early on, and that lost me positions. So to still be able to get on the podium is something I'm really proud of and it's given me a lot of confidence. We go to Australia next, which is a circuit I've won on with the R6. I'll be trying to do the same with the R1 at Round 2."
#23 Broc Parkes (ASB1000: 5th)
"It was my first time to do a wet race on Dunlops at Sepang, and our settings were more focused on the dry, so it was a really tough race. A lot of riders crashed, and a saw a lot of guys spinning the rear, so I was doing everything I could not to crash and make up as many positions as I could. One reason I didn't do as well was that I made a mistake at the start. The next race is a home race for me in Australia, but the circuit itself I've never actually raced on so it'll be new for me. That doesn't matter though, because I still want to win at home and that's the plan once we get there."
Team Manager Yukihiko Kurata
"The conditions changed so quickly that I think the riders were mostly focused on just enduring. Even with that being the case, Ito saw the adverse conditions in a positive light and pushed his machine hard to try for the podium. That got him 3rd. I think he was relieved to get his season off to an overall positive start. Parkes' mistake at the start plagued him until the end, but he pulled it together to get 5th. To have both our riders on the podium this weekend showed how much potential we have. We knew our rivals would be strong, so we'll have to improve our base setup to be able to fight harder next time."
Yamaha Thailand Racing Team
Peerapong Boonlert (SS600: 1st)
"I'm so happy to be able to win both races of the opening round at an international circuit like this that even hosts MotoGP. These two wins will be unforgettable memories for me. The temperature in Race 2 was higher than in Race 1, so there was a lot more sliding and that made it a hard race. I was more focused on keeping my own pace steady than worrying about the guys behind me, and I think this was the key to winning today. I learned a lot about riding in Australia last year, so I'll have to ride differently since I'm on an R6 now. But we'll go through our race weekend in a steady way as usual, and I'm confident we have another chance to win both races. "
Theerapong Opaskornkul, Senior General Manager of Sales & Marketing Support
"Peerapong brought the team our first double victory of the season with two wins. It feels like all the experience he has built up in the ARRC has really blossomed here, and I think he will only continue to get stronger as the season goes on. In Australia we will without a doubt be trying to win again, and our team will fully support efforts to do that."
Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia
#127 Kasma Daniel bin Kasmayudin (SS600: 3rd)
"In my season in SS600 last year I didn't get inside the top 3 all season and my best finish was 6th. So to think that I could be on the podium in both races at Round 1 feels like a fantastic achievement for me. In the second half of the race I missed a gear and ran off track, and that dropped me to 5th. I kept going and passed the guys in front with 2 laps to go, and that's how I got on the podium. I won't be able to ride at the next round, but I'll do my best when I come back for the Thailand round."
Team Manager Sean Hong Wong Siong
"Kasma Daniel did it again. He fought a hard battle and came out on the podium. He made great starts in both races. Amran crashed out in the opening laps, but he showed that he could make improvements between the races and was able to latch on to the lead group, so I think our team has generally shown an upward trend. Sadly Kasma Daniel won't be able to ride at the next round, so we'll have a replacement rider for him. The circuit in Australia is really good for our team, so I think we can continue to get positive results and aim for the top."
UMA RACING YAMAHA PHILIPPINES TEAM
#17 Masato Fernando (UB150: 1st)
"It was a fantastic race, and an awesome win for me. Race 1 was frustrating, but I was after a win in race 2 so I'm really happy. In the first race my initial impression was that the UB150 class has a lot of really fast riders, and is a very competitive class. For Race 2 I just believed in myself and that I wouldn't lose to those guys. For the next race I'll prepare myself as hard as possible so I can go out and win again."
#123 McKinley Kyle Paz (UB150: 3rd)
"Race 2 was an even tougher battle. The other riders had one race under their belts so they came back even stronger for the next race with improved bikes. I fought even harder than I did in Race 1 to try for a win, but I didn't make it so I'm a bit disappointed. But I'll take this experience and put it to use, training hard in the gym and on track, so I can win at the next round."
Team Manager Cornista Jordan
"I'm so happy we could win again in Race 2. We didn't quite get the 1-2 finish we'd hoped for, but to have our riders on the podium in 1st and 3rd was great. UB150s won't race in Australia, so the next round for us will be in Thailand. Our goal is more wins and eventually to take the championship title, so we'll do our best to make that happen."