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AZLAN BRINGS IT HOME Featured

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After twelve long years, the SuperSports 600cc Asian trophy returns to Malaysian shores carried proudly by Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman.

Since the class was introduced in 2000, the title was first won by Malaysian rider Chia Tuck Cheong in 2000 and 2001 before the trophy headed to Japan with Toshiyuki Hamaguchi who kept the title for five consecutive years. The Asian honours then went to Thailand with Decha Kraisart in 2007 and was won again by Hamaguchi in 2008. Thai riders Chalermpol Polamai and Decha Kraisart wrested the trophy in 2009 and 2010 respectively. A year later, the trophy was again brought back to Japan by Katsuaki Fujiwara in 2011 followed by Ryuichi Kiyonari in 2012.

Azlan returned to the 2013 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship for a final joust at the Losail International Circuit, bristling with confidence after six rounds of Moto2 battles in the MotoGP. A successful qualifying session saw the MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda rider parking his bike first on the grid.

Azlan used his prime starting position to good effect as he charged to his first double win of the season. In Race 1, Azlan seized the lead at the first lap and proceeded to storm to the finish line, leaving Zamri Baba, Broc Parkes, and Katsuaki Fujiwara fighting for second position. The Malaysian rider completed the 15 lap race with a time of 32:20.579s, 7.964s ahead of second placed Fujiwara and third placed Zamri Baba.

The race pace was faster in Race 2 which was delayed due to a crash by Md Farid Badrul Hisham during the warm-up lap. The race was subsequently reduced to 13 laps.

After his win in Race 1, Azlan only needed 0.5 points to seal the championship and could have taken it easy by just completing the race within the points. Instead, the Malaysian rider duked it out against three determined contenders - Parkes, Fujiwara and Zamri Baba. Parkes, in particular, was extremely strong in the final two laps of the race and came close to preventing Azlan from ending the season on a high note. However, Azlan fought back and pipped the Australian rider to the finish line with a time of 27:56.248s, 0.180s in front.

Behind the duelling leaders, Fujiwara muscled past Zamri Baba and finished third with a time of 27:59.440s.

The newly crowned champion went on to reflect on the race, “This weekend was extremely challenging and the crew worked really hard to produce the best bike possible.”

“We got lucky in Race 1 because I was able to escape the tussle between Fujiwara, Zamri, Broc and Yudhistira but Race 2 was a bit more dramatic. My rivals were so much faster and was a bit more aggressive than usual which is understandable because it is the final race of the season.”

“I had to work really hard to get ahead of them but towards the end I was sliding all over the place and this was when Broc caught up. By right I should have tone down the pace a notch because going any faster would be very risky but I was not about to let another victory slip away. Fortunately everything went well.”

He went on to add, “All in all, we had a great time at Losail. There was a lot of fighting between the top guys which was very exciting and many thanks to the team, sponsors, family and friends for supporting us. It has been a great year.”

With twelve consecutive podiums to his name, Azlan etches his name as one of the SuperSports 600cc greats with 228 points followed by Fujiwara second and Zamri third, each with 194.5 points and 149.5 points.

Team MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda Racing made it a double celebration as they successfully defended the Team Award in the SuperSports 600cc category. The Honda outfit retained their title with 235.5 points, followed by BEET Kawasaki in second overall with 194.5 points and PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha third overall with 166.5 points.

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