Every year, a trickling of Chinese-Taipei riders find their way to the Asian series. For most, it would be journey of many ‘firsts’ – their first time racing in a foreign environment, their first experience on an FIM-graded track, their first taste of competition at the regional level.
In 2018, 35-year-old Chiou Ke Lung was the latest arrival, eager to test his skills against his peers. Having gained previous experience in the Okayama Endurance and the Suzuka 4 Hour Endurance, Chiou looked to be the best-prepared Chinese-Taipei entry in recent years.
His chosen field was the Asia Production 250cc category, one of the hardest race categories to debut in. The largest grid of the Asia Road Racing Championship, the AP250 class is always a dogfight from start to finish.
Newcomers are often drowned out as they struggle to keep pace with their more flamboyant peers. But Chiou, looked to have gotten off on a solid footing.
Within the space of a week, and with the help of more track time thanks to the pre-season tests, Chiou managed to dock almost three seconds from his laptimes. At the end of the season opener at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, Chiou was about 4.1 seconds off the pace-leader.
The following table illustrates Chiou’s progress in Round 1:
|Pre-Season Practice 1||2’00.792||+5.520|
|Pre-Season Practice 2||1’59.932||+6.752|
|Pre-Season Practice 3||1’57.410||+4.137|
|Pre-Season Practice 4||1’58.766||+5.644|
|Pre-Season Practice 5||1’57.924||+4.986|
|Pre-Season Practice 6||1’57.811||+4.650|
|Round 1 Free Practice 1||1’58.303||+4.743|
|Round 1 Free Practice 2||1’58.477||+5.371|
|Round 1 Qualifying||1’57.198||+4.134|
Chiou’s next challenge would be to cut his laptimes by two more seconds for a chance to finish within the points.
The venue for Round 2, The Bend Motorsports Park in South Australia, will be a good environment for the newcomers. A new addition to the Asian race calendar, The Bend offers a completely level playing field, negating any advantage the other competitors might have in terms of data or experience.
For riders from countries without a strong motorsports culture, progress can sometimes feel frustratingly slow. It would take a rider of strong mental capacity to withstand the inevitable national pressure to win while honing his race craft step by step.