There is no circuit on the ARRC rota, that holds a greater advantage for home riders than Sentul. The condition of the track surface, despite some recent patching, makes finding the best lines and bike set-up a major challenge for visiting teams and riders. Consequently, nobody was surprised to hear the Indonesian national anthem played three times on the first day of racing at round five of the 2018 championship.
In championship terms, the absences of leader Anthony West and third-placed Yuki Ito, handed Azlan Shah a golden opportunity to bring the 2018 title within reach and for a tightly-packed chasing group comprising Tomoyoshi Koyama, Zaqwan Zaidi, Ratthapong Wilairot, Ahmad Yudhistira and Taiga Hada, to scramble higher up the ladder.
In the event, Andi Farid Izdihar broke new ground for himself and Astra Honda by delivering the team’s first Supersport pole position and first win and podium finish of the season after 16-lap battle with Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki’s Ahmad Yudhistira.
Starting from the middle of the front row, Yudhistira got the holeshot from Farid and rode a confident race in the lead as the 20-year-old pressed him relentlessly. Behind them, MUSASHI Boon Siew Honda’s Zaqwan slotted into an increasingly distant third place, before being passed by Ratthapong Wilairot, who was riding impressively after dislocating his shoulder in a fast crash at Turn 2 on Friday. The Yamaha Thailand rider looked to have made third place his own, but a problem with his R6’s gear lever forced him to run wide, which let Zaqwan back through.
Farid’s team-mate, Irfan Irdiyansyah, made a poor start before making his way back up into contention and eventually past Ratthapong.
Azlan’s plan was foiled from the start, when he found his Kawasaki unable to rev into the power band and struggled as Taiga Hada and Tomoyoshi Koyama pushed him down the order.
Late in the race, as the front two moved further ahead, Farid converted pressure into a pass on Yudhistira, who snatched back the lead a few corners later. With tyre wear playing an increasing part in proceedings, Farid kept pushing on the last lap, slithering in front under braking for Turn 10 and holding on as the Kawasaki powered back at him on the run to the line to get within three hundredths of a second. More than eight seconds back, Zaqwan fought off a late charge by Irfan to claim third. He was another four seconds clear of Ratthapong, while Hada and Koyama were another two seconds adrift in sixth and seventh. The ailing Azlan was eighth in front of Azroy Anuar, Keisuke Kurihara and Thai duo, Passawit Thitiwararak and Decha Kraisart. Zulfahmi Kharudin, in as a replacement rider for his own team, was 13th, 38 seconds behind Farid. Webike IKAZUCHI substitutes, New Zealander, Liam Taylor MacDonald and South African, Sheridan Morais finished 14th and 17th respectively. Full results here.
Asia Production 250cc
A convincing display by Astra Honda’s Rheza Danica Ahrens and Awhin Sanjaya left the rest of the AP250 field fighting over the remaining places in Race 1. Rheza’s 15-year-old team-mate and only realistic title rival, Mario Suryo Aji, fell on lap 2, thereby increasing his points deficit from 25 to 51 points. Mario had earlier led a front row lockout after a perfect qualifying session for the Honda home team.
With the rest of the field unable to match the pace of the flying Hondas at the front, a group of five riders behind them fought a pitched battle for third. Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki’s Andy Fadly initially looked strongest, before Muklada Sarapuech, riding with the handlebars of her Honda adapted to accommodate her injured left wrist, pushed her way through, hassled all the way by Rafid Topan Sucipto. M. Faerozi threatened them just behind, while Anuparb Sarmoon fought to stay in contact.
Rafid forced his way past Muklada on the final lap and held his advantage to grab the final place on the podium, while she, in turn, got to the finish line 14 hundredths ahead of Fadly. Faerozi and Anuparb finished sixth and seventh ahead of the best wildcard of the day, Sigit Purno Harjorno, who was 1.5 seconds clear of Anggi Setiawan, Richard Taroreh, Peerapong Boonlert and United M-Mate’s wildcard, Yossie Legisadewo. Full results here.
Agung Fahrul, one of six wildcard riders in today’s opening race at Sentul , left his mark on the 2018 ARRC championship by taking a win from Helmi Azman, whose main championship rivals, Izzat Zaidi, Ahmad Fazli Sham and Whayu Aji Trilaksana fell further behind.
Starting from fourth on the 26-bike grid, Agung kept himself in the top five and frequently held the lead, before timing a perfect run to the chequered flag to win from SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda’s Azman, who began the day with a 23 point advantage in the standings over RCB Yamaha’s Izzat.
The drama began on the startline, when Wahyu’s Yamaha was pushed off the grid with a problem, effectively snuffing out the 2016 champion’s title chances.
Haziq Fairues converted his pole position into an early lead, which he traded with Agung, Helmi and SND Factory’s Gupita Kresna, before falling back from the 11 bike leading group with mechanical problems after mid distance. Defending champion, Akid Aziz, also broke down and pulled into the pits on lap eight.
A fast game of cat and mouse for nine laps gave way to a fist fight at the end, with bikes fanning out across the circuit’s 15 metre width as they fought for advantage. Agung gained a bike length at the start of the last lap, which computed into a win of 0.153s over Helmi, who crossed the line a few hundredths in front of Gupita, Amirul Ariff Musa, Izzat, Syahrul Amin and fellow wildcard, Wawan Wello. Fazli Sham finished eighth from Rusman Fadhil and Murobbil Fatoni, who completed the top ten.
Izzat suffered a heart-stopping crash after taking the chequered flag, being ejected from his machine, apparently due to another rider hitting his rear wheel. The 23-year-old Malaysian was mercifully uninjured.
Helmi goes into Race 2 having extended his lead over Izzat by another 9 points and over Fazli Sham by a further 12. Full results here.