- · Zaqhwan Zaidi wins the 2014 SuperSports 600cc title beating runner-up, Yuki Ito by one point with Zamri Baba’s assistance
- Katsuaki Fujiwara slipped from the title having finished both races outside top 10 due to technical issues
- · Zaqhwan’s victory marks Honda’s third consecutive year winning the SuperSports 600cc rider and team standings
- · At 19-years old, Zaqhwan is the third Malaysian to win the premire class title after Chia Tuck Cheong and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and the youngest to do so at 19-years old
Zaqhwan Zaidi snatched the SuperSports 600cc crown from the grasp of Katsuaki Fujiwara and Yuki Ito to become the youngest rider to win the premiere class in a thrilling PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship season finale at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Sunday.
The Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing rider was third in the standings with a 22-point disadvantage heading into the final round but was able to secure the title having finished second in Race 1 and Race 2 as champion thanks to teammate, Zamri Baba who held off his immediate title rivals.
Retiring Katsuaki Fujiwara (BEET Kawasaki Racing) who initially led the standings missed out on what could have been his second Asian title after he completed both races outside top-10 following technical difficulties with his front-end suspension.
It was a dramatic end to an enthralling season and gave Honda, who sealed the SuperSports 600cc team awards with Zaqhwan’s victory at the floodlit desert circuit, their third riders’ title after Ryuichi Kiyonari (2012) and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (2013).
The final standings had Zaqhwan on top with 170 points, one point ahead of Yuki Ito (PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha) in second and 15 above retirement-bound Katsuaki Fujiwara (BEET Kawasaki Racing) in third place.
“You dream about being champion and dedicate your whole life to it, so when it comes true it is very special and amazing! I’m just really happy to make my country proud,” said an emotional Zaqhwan after the race.
He added, “Honestly we did not expect to win because this is only my third year racing in the premiere class. But when we saw Yuki and Fujiwara finish outside top five in Race 1, it became clear we actually stood a chance so Zamri and I cooked up a strategy together.”
“I owe it to Zamri, Without him holding Yuki and the rest of the field back, it would have been impossible to win and personally I think he is the man of the match. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the team, sponsors, family, friends and fans for believing and supporting me all this while.”
In an intense battle that saw the leaders swap positions on multiple times, Zamri aced Race 1 in 31’37.305s followed by Zaqhwan second and Yudhistira (Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki) third with 31’37.371s and 31’37.529s respectively.
Zaqhwan signed off the season with his second premiere class victory to secure the SuperSports 600cc title in Race 2, wrapping up the grueling 15-lap battle in 31’24.717s while Yuki fought courageously to finish second with 31’25.097s. 31-year old Zamri came in third with 31’25.119s.
Meanwhile Gupita Kresna became the first Asian Underbone 130cc Champion.
The poleman secured the intermediate crown having finished Race 1 in 13th position following a huge collision with Kazuki Masaki (Team Honda RSC) on the front straight in the final lap. Both riders escaped the horrific crash uninjured and picked up their bikes to complete the race with Gupita pushing his Kawasaki to the finish line.
Fortunately for the Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech rider, closest title rival, Norizman Ismail (Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing) retired from the race following a broken exhaust pipe and the three points he picked up was enough for him to clinch the title.
Gupita’s compatriot, Reza Fahlevy (Faito Factory Racing) won Race 1 in 18’04.320s with Ahmad Fazrul Sham and Rusman Fadil completing the podium steps in 18’04.330s and 18’04.338s respectively.
Boosted by his championship win, Gupita went on to secure his maiden victory for the season in a hectic Race 2. In a breathtaking photo-finish, Gupita crossed the line in 18’04.860s, 0.118 seconds ahead of Fazrul Sham with Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa (T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS) 0.002 seconds behind.
It was a superb display of clever race craft by Gupita, who battled a persistent pack. He started the final lap in 15th place, in the slipstream of his rivals and passed Amirul on the fast, sweeping back section and timed his flying finish to perfection.
Picking up 28 points from this round, Gupita puts an end to the 2014 Underbone 130cc title chase with 176 points, while T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS’ Taiga Hada and Amirul Ariff rounded up top three with 127 points and 126 points respectively.
T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS won the Underbone 130cc team award with 180 points followed by Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech second and Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing third with 176 points and 163 points.
Khairul Idham Pawi bids farewell to the Asia Dream Cup on a high as he chalked up another set of double win.
Having already wrapped up the championship title in Thailand (Round 5), Khairul could afford to relax in Qatar, but it would simply see him perform better as the poleman snatched lead at the first corner and disappeared into the distance in Race 1, completing the nine-lap race in 17’53.697s.
Aditya Pangestu of Indonesia came in 10 seconds later with 18’03.502s beating Japan’s Teppei Nagoe by 0.034s while Taiwan’s Chuang An-Yu and Harith Farhan Baharin rounded up top five.
Race 2 was a much difficult outing for Khairul as he was forced to battle it out with his rivals for lead. Even so that did not stop the 16-year old from pulling away from the pack in the final three laps to take his ninth win for the season in 17’56.280s.
Sarath Kumar turned in the best performance of his career as he bagged his first podium in the Asia Dream Cup in second place with 17’58.666s, 2.386 seconds adrift Khairul while Syunya Mori came in third, 17’58.700s.
Collecting 50 points, Khairul takes his total championship haul for the season to an unassailable 285 points with Aditya and Nagoe as runner-ups with 179 points and 175 points.
1.Zamri Baba (Honda) 31’37.305s 2.Zaqhwan Zaidi (Honda) 31’37.371s 3.Yudhistira (Kawasaki) 31’37.529s 4.Tomoyoshi Koyama (Honda) 31’37.682s 5.Ratthapong Wilairot (Honda) 31’38.187s
1.Zaqhwan Zaidi (Honda) 31’24.717s 2.Yuki Ito (Yamaha) 31’25.097s 3.Zamri Baba (Honda) 31’25.119s 4.Tomoyoshi Koyama (Honda) 31’28.354s 5.Yudhistira (Kawasaki) 31’28.434s
1.Zaqhwan Zaidi (Honda) 170 points 2.Yuki Ito (Yamaha) 169 points 3.Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) 155 points 4.Zamri Baba (Honda) 151 points 5.Tomoyoshi Koyama (Honda) 144 points
1.Musashi Boon Siew Honda 246 points 2.PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha 171 points 3.T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS 171 points 4.BEET Kawasaki Racing 154 points 5.Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki 112 points
1.Reza Fahlevy (Yamaha) 18’04.320s 2.Ahmad Fazrul Sham (Honda) 18’04.330s 3.Rusman Fadil (Yamaha) 18’04.338s 4.Ferlando Herdian (Yamaha) 18’04.413s 5.Affendi Rosli (Yamaha) 18’04.415s
1.Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki) 18’04.860s 2.Ahmad Fazrul Sham (Honda) 18’04.978s 3.Amirul Ariff Musa (Honda) 18’04.980s 4.Ferlando Herdian (Yamaha) 18’04.990s 5.Affendi Rosli (Yamaha) 18’05.011s
1.Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki) 176 points 2.Taiga Hada (Honda) 127 points 3.Amirul Ariff Musa (Honda) 126 points 4.Norizman Ismail (Honda) 125 points 5.Kazuki Masaki (Honda) 123 points
1.T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS 180 points 2.Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech 176 points 3.Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing 163 points 4.PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha 150 points 5.Faito Factory Racing 139 points
Asia Dream Cup
1.Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS) 17’53.697s 2.Aditya Pangestu (INA) 18’03.502s 3.Teppei Nagoe (JPN) 18’03.536s 4.Chuang An Yu (TPE) 18’03.547s 5.Harith Farhan Baharin (MAS) 18’03.558s
1.Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS) 17’56.280s 2.Sarath Kumar (IND) 17’58.666s 3.Syunya Mori (JPN) 17’58.700s 4.Aditya Pangestu (INA) 17’58.758s 5.Harith Farhan Baharin (MAS) 18’02.268s
1.Khairul Idham Pawi (MAS) 285 points 2.Aditya Pangestu (INA) 179 points 3.Teppei Nagoe (JPN) 175 points 4.Syunya Mori (JPN) 143 points 5.Chuang An-Yu (TPE) 130 points