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Searing heat and track temperatures in the mid-40s made for a challenging first day at Zhuhai International Circuit for ARRC round five. Oil from race car tyres that had been pounded into the asphalt, seeped back up to the topping in places as the temperature rose, making for slippery conditions at various points around the 4.3 kilometre track.
Zaqhwan scorches away in free practice
Honda Asia Dream Racing by Showa’s Zaqhwan Zaidi made a strong start to round five, topping all three free practice sessions, recording a best time of 1:34.482 FP2. The Malaysian was also quickest in FP3, despite a trip through the gravel at turn one at the 15-minute mark. Yamaha Racing ASEAN duo, Broc Parkes and Yuki Ito were strong all day, ending up second and third, both within a tenth of Zaqhwan. though the Australian too had his final session curtailed by a trip through Zhuhai’s deep, welcoming gravel traps.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman had a good day on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW, bringing his times down progressively to finish the day fourth on 1:35.179, just ahead of Kawasaki Thailand’s returning Thitipong Warakorn and Ahmad Yudhistira, who again got the best out of the Victor Racing privateer Yamaha. Apiwat Wongthananon was seventh for Yamaha Thailand on 1:35.437, half a second better than the fastest wildcard and last rider in the 1:35s, Li Zheng Peng. Of the other wildcards, Mark Aitchison missed FP2 with mechanical problems and ended up 11th, ahead of Masahiro Shinjo and Huang Shi Zhao.
Zaqhwan’s performance defied many expectations that the Honda could be disadvantaged on Zhuhai’s fast stop and go layout. The rider himself expressed surprise to be ahead given the brute power of the BMW, the Yamahas and Kawasakis that he was able to see off on the opening day.
Supersport 600: Kasma takes the fight to Peerapong in free practice
Hong Leong Yamaha’s Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin, buoyed by a podium finish in the CEV Moto2 championship, made a strong start to the weekend, staying ahead of the pack all day to finish with a best time of 1:37.551, which was half a second better than runaway championship leader, Peerapong Boonlert.
Peerapong came out on fresh tyres and attacked with less than four minutes on the clock in FP3, clocking his best time of the but was unable match the young Malaysian. Ramdan Rosli was another rider who brought his times down in each session on the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Yamaha to finish third on 1:38.437. Andi Farid Izdihar was the best of the Honda riders and finished fourth on the Astra CBR600 RR less than two tenths slower than Ramdan and a few thousandths ahead of Helmi Azman, who looked to be finding his form on the Musashi Boon Siew Honda.
Asia Production 250: Lucky leads the line for Astra Honda
Astra Honda continued the resurgent form they showed at Suzuka with strong performances from all three riders today.
It was Lucky Hendriansya who led the way and was the only rider to break the 1:54 barrier with a best lap in FP3 of 1:53.758. Team-mate, Irfan Adriansiah was next with a 1:54.000, just 16 hundredths quicker than Rafid Topan Sucipto, on the Bike Corner SYS KYT Honda. Astra’s Awhin Sanjaya was fourth from Anggi Setiawan, who was the best of the Yamaha riders, while AP Honda’s Piyawat Patoomyos was sixth. The hitherto assumed leading championship contenders, Andy Fadly and Muklada Sarapuech were further down the order than usual, with Andy eighth and Muklada still further back after injuring her right leg and foot in a crash in the first session. She recorded her best time of the day- 1:55.056 in the last session, despite running off-track twice. She will be checked over by the medical team on Saturday morning to determine her fitness to race.
Underbone 150: Akid Aziz top of the class
UMA Racing Yamaha’s Akid Aziz demonstrated the class that won him the UB150 title in 2017 right from the start of the first free practice session, breaking the two minute mark with a time of 1:59.825.
As three more riders, Ahmad Fazli Sham, Wawan Wello and 13-year-old Aldi Satya Mahendra joined Akid in the 1:59s during qualifying, Akid turned the wick up still further to claim provisional pole position with a time of 1:59.158. Adib Rosley, one of the few riders to have raced at Zhuhai last time out in 2012, was fifth from Haziq Fairues, Gupita Kresna and Wahyu Aji Trilaksana. Fernando Masato was the 15th qualifier and will be first on track for Saturday morning’s superpole contest that determines positions on the first five rows of the grid.