In one of the most edgy final round showdowns in ARRC history, Yamaha Thailand’s Ratthapong Wilairot left nothing in the garage in Friday’s Free Practice sessions, putting in a fastest time of the day of 1:38.939, almost three tenths quicker than team-mate, Decha Kraisart, who ended the day second.
Ratthapong, who needs a double win at Chang International to take the championship is clearly giving it his best shot. Both Thai Yamahas looked fast and well-balanced around the circuit and were able to stay ahead of the rapid Manual Tech KYT Kawasakis of Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ahmad Yudhistira. Randy Krummenacher, who is on the Webike IKAZUCHI Yamaha in place of sidelined championship leader, Anthony West, went well on the first day, ending up fourth on 1:39.500. Also showing good pace were Yamaha Racing ASEAN’s Keminth Kubo and MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda duo, Zaqwan Zaidi and Tomoyoshi Koyama. Astra Honda’s Gerry Salim had a quiet outing in place of the injured Irfan Ardiansyah.
Times for most riders can be expected to come down by another second in tomorrow morning’s qualifying session and it is 2017 champion Azlan, lying second in the championship, who has the most at stake. Full results here.
Asia Production 250cc – Kritchaporn tops Free Practice
AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi made a strong start to Round 6, showing good pace in all three sessions and ending up as the only rider to break into the 1:52s. His compatriot, Anuparb Sarmoon, also looked strong as he chases second spot in the standings and finished second on combined times with a 1:53.089. Anuparb’s main challenger for the runner-up position, Mario Suryo Aji, was around half a second off the pace, while his Astra Honda team-mate, Awhin Sanjaya, was a further second adrift. 2018 champion, Rheza Danica Ahrens had a quiet day, lapping mainly in the 1:54s.
The rider who looked most likely to disturb the two Thais at the top was Manual Tech KYT’s Andy Mohammad Fadly, who recorded a best time of 1:53.339. Peerapong Boonlert was fast and consistent all day, Mukalda Sarapuech was in the high 1:53s along with Rafid Topan Sucipto and Richard Taroreh. Indonesia’s World Supersport 300 star, Galang Hendra Pratama, who is in for the injured M. Faerozi, scraped into the 1:53s and will be looking for a big improvement in tomorrow morning’s qualifying session. Full results here.
Underbone 150cc – Wildcard Wawan tops Qualifying as Helmi hiccups and misses the cut for Superpole
SCK Rapido Hi Rev Honda’s Helmi Azman began his mission to seal the 2018 championship in style, leading both Free Practice sessions as the rest of the mono class field felt its way more gingerly into the final round. The big surprise, as riders made their way towards the 2:01 threshold, was the performance of Yamaha Yamalube SND’s Chang International debutant, Wawan Wello. The young Indonesian, who ran comfortably with the leaders as a wildcard at Sentul in October, finished in the middle of the pack in the first session, as he found his way around the track’s 7 right hand and five left hand bends, then pulled the pin in FP2 to end up second behind the championship leader. Other riders to show well ahead of Qualifying, were Amirul Ariff Musa, Affendi Rosli, Akid Aziz, Peerapong Luiboonpeng and Izzat Zaidi, the only rider with a mathematical chance of taking the championship from Helmi.
The 19-year-old Malaysian began Qualifying brightly enough, quickly clocking a 2:00.313, when an engine problem forced him to slow down and enter the pits. Seeing that the problem looked serious, the team pushed the bike into the garage, which triggered an infringement of the rule that says bikes must not be pushed into the garage during any practice or race session. Helmi was subsequently dropped 16 places, from third to 19th and therefore misses tomorrow morning’s Superpole battle for the top 15 grid positions.
Wawan kept his head down and ended up topping Qualifying with a time of 1:59.998, the only rider to break below two minutes. SND’s regular riders, Gupita Kresna and Syahrul Amin qualified 12th and 13th, some 2.5 seconds adrift of Wawan. ONEXOX TKKR’s Syafieq Aimin was 15th and will be the first man out in the morning, just ahead of SCK’s Travis Hall. Full results here.