Published on March 31st, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Positive Start for Zaqhwan Despite Tricky Conditions
Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi’s title defense campaign had gotten off to a positive start. At the Johor Circuit for the first day of free practices for the season opener of the 2017 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, the MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda rider was fastest in two of the three free practice sessions and ended the day as the fastest rider with a time of 1’31.063s.
In the hunt for his third SuperSports 600cc Asian title, Zaqhwan looked comfortable as he shouldered the role of lead rider for the Malaysian racing team. However, the 2-times SuperSports 600cc champion expressed surprise that the rest of the field were not as fast as their pre-season laptimes.
“The weather condition made things a little tricky for us. Due to the rain on the previous day, there were patches of mud on the track. I think the uncertainty about grip slowed everyone down. The weather condition will play a big role in the qualifying and race outcome tomorrow (Saturday),” he said.
Meanwhile, teenage hotshot Taiga Hada served up a surprise when he posted the second fastest time in class with 1’31.519s. The 18-year-old RAMA Honda NTS T.Pro Ten10 rider outpaced early favourites Decha Kraisart and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman. The two senior riders were third and fourth fastest respectively with 1’31.812s and 1’32.074s. Azlan’s new team mate Ahmad Yudhistira rounded up the top five with 1’32.079s.
In the Asia Production 250cc category, Yamaha Thailand’s Anupab Sarmoon extended his dominating pace from the pre-season test.
Anupab ended the day as the quickest 250cc rider with a time of 1’44.202s. However, Anupab will have a tough fight on his hands, especially from his closest Honda rival – Gerry Salim. The Indonesian rider clocked 1’44.584s, only 0.382 seconds off Anupab’s pace. 2015 250cc champion Takehiro Yamamoto was third fastest with 1’44.964s.
Elsewhere, Yamaha Indonesian duo Imanuel Putra Pratna and Galang Hendra Pratama rounded up the top five of the day with times of 1’45.290s and 1’45.319s respectively.
Finally, the new Underbone 150cc class promises to be even more exciting than the previous 130cc category. In the qualifying session held for the first round at the Johor Circuit on March 31, 2017, a total of seven riders clocked within the same second.
Team Yuzy Honda Vietnam Racing’s Azroy Hakeem Anuar topped the timesheets in the qualifier with 1’49.115s, narrowly edging out defending champion Wahyu Aji Trilaksana who was second fastest with 1’49.336s. Malaysian debutant, Mohd Akid Aziz from team Uma Racing Yamaha Maju Motor made an impactful first qualifying when he posted third fastest with 1’49.338s.
However, the top-10 grid of the Underbone 150cc class is yet to be finalized. The final grid will only be confirmed after the Underbone 150cc SuperPole that will take place in the morning before the first race. Then, the top Underbone riders will be put to the test without the benefit of the slipstream from the other competitors on the track.
Results (Combined Practice):
1. Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi (MAS) Honda 1’31.063s
2. Taiga Hada (JPN) Honda 1’31.591s
3. Decha Kraisart (THA) Yamaha 1’31.812s
4. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS) Kawasaki 1’32.074s
5. Ahmad Yudhistira (INA) Kawasaki 1’32.079s
Asia Production 250cc
1. Anupab Sarmoon (THA) Yamaha 1’44.202s
2. Gerry Salim (INA) Honda 1’44.584s
3. Takehiro Yamamoto (JPN) Honda 1’44.964s
4. Imanuel Putra Pratna (INA) Yamaha 1’45.290s
5. Galang Hendra Pratama (INA) Yamaha 1’45.319s
Underbone 130cc (Sesi kelayakan)
1. Azroy Hakeem Anuar (MAS) Honda 1’49.115s
2. Wahyu Aji Trilaksana (INA) Yamaha 1’49.336s
3. Md Akid Aziz (MAS) Yamaha 1’49.338s
4. Md Amirul Ariff Musa (MAS) Honda 1’49.501s
5. Tengku Amirul Haffirudin (MAS) Yamaha 1’49.571s