Just one day into the 2018 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, and Asia Production 250cc debutant Mario Suryo Aji has earned a new nickname from Asian racing fans – Super Mario. Officially the youngest rider to ever race in the Asia Production 250cc class, the Astra Honda Racing Team rookie pulled off a double-stunner during the free practice sessions.
Not only did he post the fastest time in the intermediary class – 1’53.106s – but he also created a new circuit record in the process. This was the first time a debutant had entered the competitive race category and created such big waves.
Anupab Sarmoon, heavily tipped as the hot favourite for the title this season, was second quickest with 1’53.250s. Former Moto2 rider Rafid Topan Sucipto was third fastest with 1’53.389s.
Mario’s performance has again put much pressure on his senior team mate Rheza Danica Ahrens, viewed by many as the successor to Gerry Salim’s title. Rheza was fourth fastest at the end of the free practice sessions with 1’53.466s followed by Muklada Sarapuech fifth fastest.
In fact, all the ten fastest riders in the class were only separated by a single second. Kanata Jaiman, Peerapong Boonlert, Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi, Andy Muhammad Fadly and AwhinSanjaya piled into the second half of the top ten.