PRE-SEASON: DECHA INCHES CLOSE TO TRACK RECORD

While Malaysian rider Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi dominated the proceedings in the first day of pre-season tests for the 2017 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, it was Thai rider Decha Kraisart who came close to setting a new benchmark for the SuperSports 600cc class at the Johor Circuit. The Yamaha Thailand Racing rider found his rhythm in the closing sessions of the two-day practice and clocked the fastest time of the class, 01’31.051s.

36-year-old Decha, who was the SuperSports 600cc champion in 2007 and 2010, has shown no sign of slowing down. Having just won second place in the recent World SuperSports Championship race in Thailand as a wildcard last weekend, Decha is in the hunt for his third Asian trophy.

Decha’s 2016 campaign got off to a slow start. At the Johor Circuit in Pasir Gudang last year, Decha suffered a DNF in Race 1 and only finished 12th in Race 2. But team Yamaha Thailand Racing had been able to overcome their problems in the second half of 2016. The Thai rider is hoping to score major points when the season kicks off on March 31.

However, Decha’s best time only came close to the existing track record set by Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi (01’31.016s). As the pre-season test wrapped up, defending champion Zaqhwan posted the second fastest combined time of 01’31.381s followed by Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman with 01’31.441s. Decha’s team mate Chalermpol Polamai was fourth fastest with 01’31.871s while 18-year-old Japanese ace Taiga Hada rounded up the top five with 01’32.045s.

Further down the field, Yamaha Racing’s Yuki Ito was sixth on the timesheets. Ito’s team mate, newcomer Keminth Kubo from Thailand, was eighth fastest with 01’32.515s. The best performing Indonesian contender, Ahmad Yudhistira, posted seventh fastest with 01’32.417s.