Overview: The SuperSports 600cc race at the Sentul Circuit may have lost some stars to injury (Yuki Takahashi, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Ratthapong Wilairot did not compete), but the outcome of the race showed that there was no shortage of star potential. The local heroes certainly knew their way around the 3.864km circuit as they grabbed four out of seven wins on the table at the fourth leg of the season. In the SuperSports 600cc category, it was young Gerry Salim’s time to shine.
Race Start: A clean start from poleman Gerry saw the Indonesian hotshot lead Ahmad Yudhistira and Tomoyoshi Koyama into the first corner. Two turns into the race, and already six overtaking moves among the top group had been spotted.
Lap 1 to Lap 2: Gerry easily absorbed the pressure of race-leader as he, Yudhistira, Koyama and Dimas Ekky Pratama rapidly broke away from the second pack. MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda’s Zaqhwan Zaidi was left alone in fifth place while Jakkrit Sawangswat and Thitipong Warokorn made the third group. Behind the action, Decha Kraisart took a tumble out of the race.
Lap 3: Inch perfect every step of the day, Gerry was able to tackle the bumpy Sentul circuit with finesse, creating a 0.5 seconds lead ahead of Yudhisitra.
Lap 4 to 8: No change in position at the front. By Lap 7, the four rampaging riders were 2.4 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Zaqhwan. At the midway point of the race, it looked difficult for Zaqhwan to catch up.
Lap 9: Behind the top five, Jakkrit was the leader in the battle for P6, fighting against Noriyuki Haga, Taiga Hada and Anthony West.
Lap 10: Gerry, Yudhistira and Dimas are still on course for an all-Indonesian 1-2-3 in front of the packed grandstand.
Lap 11: Koyama finally tires of sitting at the end of the leading group and makes his first move. As Dimas slows down to deal with the aggressive Koyama, Gerry got the break he needed to run away at the front of the field.
Lap 12: The battle for second place intensified. With Yudhistira, Dimas and Koyama intent on fighting each other, none of the riders noticed that Zaqhwan had overcome a 2.5-second deficit to attach himself to their tail. With four laps to go, Gerry leads by 1.169 seconds.
Lap 13 to 14: Koyama starts to look for a way past Yudhistira who is absorbing an enormous amount of pressure from Dimas.
Lap 15: The level of aggression got higher. Dimas risked a move on the inside of Turn 2 but promptly lost it to Yudhistira on Turn 3 while Koyama looks on from the outside. The position swapping continued until Zaqhwan pulled of a surprising move two corners before the finish line. While the three riders were intent on fighting each other, Zaqhwan pulled out of the racing line, gunned his engine and managed to overtake all three in one move. It was a win-all-or-lose-all gamble which paid off when Zaqhwan managed to make it stick.
Lap 16: Gerry celebrated his double victory on home ground with a time of 24’17.743s while Zaqhwan’s bid for the podium succeeded in placing him second with 24’19.395s. A surprised Dimas pulled in third with 24’19.593s.
Championship Standings: Tomoyoshi Koyama once again missed out on the podium in fourth place and he is now tied with Zaqhwan at the top of the riders rankings. Both riders have 131 points a piece. The absent Yuki Takahashi dropped to third with 104 points followed by Dimas Ekky Pratama and Gerry Salim moving up the ladder to fourth and fifth overall respectively.
Team Standings: MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda leads the team standings with 162 points, 31 points in front of T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS with WoW. Gerry and Dimas’s podium finishes at Sentul has boosted team Astra Honda Racing’s position to third overall with 119 points.
Gerry Salim, Astra Honda Racing, Winner: I am thrilled to be a double winner this weekend. This is my home track and I have been consistently winning here in the local championships. I was glad to have been able to use that intimate knowledge of the track to my advantage.
Zaqhwan Zaidi, MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda, 2nd place: I was pushing hard at the start of the race but a slow start off the grid had me at a disadvantage. I tried to stay in touch with the lead group but quite a distance away in fifth position. Luckily, Dimas, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Ahmad Yudhistira were so engrossed with fighting each other at the closing stage of the race that they failed to notice that their pace was slowing down. I decided to blindside the three riders with that risky move. In fact, I almost high sided during that corner but it was a huge gamble that paid off.
Dimas Ekky Pratama, Astra Honda Racing, 3rd place: Yudhistira was the biggest stumbling block for me. I was trying to make it to second place when Zaqhwan suddenly showed up out of nowhere. I didn’t have enough time to respond so I guess I just had to be happy with 3rd place. At least we managed to give our team two double podiums this weekend.