In keeping with the Yamaha momentum in Round 6 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, compatriots and team mates Decha Kraisart, Chalermpol Polamai and Anucha Nakcharoensri reigned supreme on their home track during Race 1 of the SuperSports 600cc. However, all eyes were on the four title contenders who were fighting to become the 2016 FIM Asian Champion.
As Decha and his team mates raced uncontested at the front of the 600cc grid, title defender Yuki Takahashi looked strong at the start of the 18-lap race until he crashed out at the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 1. Behind the Yamaha trio, Malaysian rider Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was embroiled in a big fight against Anthony West and Indonesia’s Dimas Ekky Pratama.
Further down the field, championship leaders Tomoyoshi Koyama and Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi found themselves fighting for track position against Yuki Ito and Ahmad Yudhistira. The battle royale between the four riders would have a big impact on the title chase. Fully aware of the situation, Koyama and Zaqhwan put in superb performances as they jousted against each other to get ahead.
When the chequered flag came down for Decha at 30’00.113s, Azlan pipped West to the finish line to finish fourth. However, this was not enough to keep him in the title hunt. In Race 2, Azlan will be expected to fight against Yuki Takahashi to defend third overall position.
Zaqhwan gained a small reprieve when he finished seventh ahead of Koyama. After Race 1, Koyama now leads with 158 points followed by Zaqhwan with 152 points. The 6-point margin between the two riders meant that, should Zaqhwan win Race 2, Koyama must finish second in order to take his first Asian title.
“Before this race, everyone was saying that the wildcards could not impact the championship. This is clearly untrue. They can easily spoil the party for us if I cannot match or outrun the pace of the Yamaha machines,” said Zaqhwan.
Elsewhere in the SuperSports 600cc results sheet, Round 5 double winner Anthony West finished fifth, followed by Dimas Ekky in sixth. Wildcard Hikari Okubo took 12th place while Zulfahmi Khairuddin finished 15th.
In the preoccupation over the riders’ title chase in the SuperSports 600cc class, many had overlooked that the Team Award title had fallen into team MUSASHi Boon Siew Honda for the fifth consecutive time. Even though defending champion Yuki Takahashi dropped out of Race 1 in the final leg of the 2016 season, Zaqhwan Zaidi’s seventh place finish was enough to hand the title back to the Malaysian racing outfit.