With the technical gremlins that delayed the start of Saturday’s race duly dispatched, Underbone 150cc Race 2 got away without a hitch. Team All for One’s Md Affendi Rosli grabbed the holeshot and gapped the rest of the field through the esses and all the way to the high point of the circuit, at Spoon Curve. From there the chasing pack, led by Race 1 winner Md Helmi Azman and Yamaha Yamalube SND’s Gupita Kresna, drafted their way up to the orange Yamaha over the fast final sector. Pole man Fakhrusy did not launch well, drifting to towards the rear of the 20 bike field.
The six lap race delivered the very best of Underbone 150cc racing and showed why the sport has many thousands of fans far beyond Asia, as the first 12 riders ebbed, flowed, wriggled and barged their way up and down the group. On aggregate it was Affendi, Gupita, Helmi, Syahrul Amin, Ahmad Fazli Sham and, from half distance, Wahyu Aji Trilaksana who spent the most time at or near the front of the group.
Affendi took a half second lead into the last lap, knowing it would not be enough to escape the chasing peloton, so slowed down on the approach to the hairpin to drop a few places and try to position himself for most advantage for the final chicane. Wahyu and Helmi took over briefly, but as the field spread wide and squashed their Dunlop slicks into Suzuka’s asphalt for the last time, Gupita got the best position, remained composed, claimed his space and squirted out of Turn 17 for the line. As he punched the air, Wahyu and Izzat snatched the remaining spots on the podium and Helmi Azman got the better of Syahrul to take fourth. Akid Aziz was sixth from Peerapong Luiboonpeng, while Affendi, after starting the last lap in the lead finished 8th, just a few hundredths in front of Fazli and Syafieq Aiman.
Gupita, who took back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 before taking a two year excursion into AP250s, was ecstatic. After a disappointing return to the series during the first two rounds of 2018, his third place in Race 1 and Sunday’s victory have given him a confidence boost and an emphatic reminder to his rivals and sponsors of what he can do on an underbone. Wahyu, who also started the season poorly by his standards, looked almost as happy as his fellow Indonesian, having sewn up his second podium of the weekend.
At the halfway point in the season, Helmi Azman, with a total of 94, tops the standings by a single point from Izzat Zaidi.Wahyu Aji Trilaksana moves up to third with 72, from Akid Aziz’s 71.