Katsuaki Fujiwara rode flawlessly to clinch his first PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) SuperSports 600cc title at the Zhuhai International Circuit, host to the penultimate round of the 2011 season today.
The Japanese national who had mastered the elements on Saturday and Friday had a great start in Race 1. Starting from pole, he was able to steal the holeshot and dominate the race from start to finish, concluding it with 29:31.502s.
Equally impressive was Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah. The Malaysian youngster made full use of his front row start to quickly tail Fujiwara while the rest of the field got caught up in a commotion at turn 1 of the first lap.
With five more laps to go, Hafizh attempted to make a pass on Fujiwara but the soft suspension installed on his Yamaha almost threw him off balance. This allowed his senior to further gap himself and put an end with a 4.147s advantage while Hafizh finished second with 29:35.649s.
Third with 29:41.947s was Mohd Zamri Baba (PETRONAS Yamaha Malaysia) who got the best of compatriots and former teammates, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia) in fourth and Ahmad Fuad Baharudin (Bike A.R.T Kawasaki Racing) fifth with 29:42.196s and 29:42.677s respectively.
Race 2 was tough on Fujiwara. Not only he had to defend his position from Zamri Baba who was determined to fight for the chequered flag but he had to fend off Chalermpol Polamai (Yamaha Thailand Racing) and Azlan Shah as well.
But Fujiwara proved he is no pushover as he successfully defended his line to the finish line as he completed the 18-lap race with 29:38.042s while Chalermpol finished second with 29:38.107s and Zamri Baba third, 29:38.195s.
"I am very happy and proud not only to win both races here in Zhuhai but also because I am now the 2011 SuperSports 600cc Champion. This was not an easy race because all my rivals were very fast here and in addition, this is my first time racing on this circuit. This makes the victory even sweeter and I would like to thank everyone in Manual Tech BEET Kawasaki Racing and all the sponsors for giving me a great bike and supporting me! Thank you very much!," said an elated Fujiwara.
Bagging 50 points from this leg, Fujiwara celebrates his title with 196.5 points followed by closest competitor, Azlan Shah second and Zamri Baba third with 140 points and 107 points respectively.
Manual Tech BEET Kawasaki Racing also leads the team standings with 196.5 points while Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia takes second place with 147 points. Third comes in Yamaha Thailand Racing wiht 143.5 points.
Still in recovery from a broken collar-bone did not stop Rafid Topan Sucipto from winning both Underbone 115cc races and extend his lead in the overall standings here at the Zhuhai International Circuit, China, host to Round 5 of the 2011 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC).
The Yamaha CKJ TJM Racing having collected 50 points from this leg now only needs a single point from the season finale at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar set to be held in December to seal the Underbone 115cc title.
Race 1 was a miracle race for Topan. Despite starting the race from the last row, the 16-year managed to muscle his way through to join the frontrunners and steal the cheqeured flag from leader, Mohd Affendi Rosli (Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing) in the final moments of the race.
Topan concluded Race 1 with a total time of 21:57.692s, 0.0011s ahead of Affendi who finished second with 21:57.703s followed by poleman, Gupita Kresna (Kawasaki NHK Rextor Manual Tech) third, 21:58. 069s.
Where else Race 2 was a much challenging outing for the Indonesian rider. Not only he had to battle it out with Affendi and Kresna again but this time around, Mohd Ramdan Mohd Rosli (PETRONAS Syntium Moto Yamaha AHM) was in the picture as well having missed Race 1 due to mechanical failure.
Despite the heated competition, Topan prevailed and bagged his second chequered flag by completing the 10 lap race in first place with 22:03.998s followed by defending Champion, Hadi Wijaya with 22:04.112s and Ramdan third, 22:04.331s.
Upon conclusion of this leg, Topan now leads the standings with 211 points followed by Hadi Wijaya second with 162 points and Mohd Rozaiman Mohd Said (Motul Yamaha YY Pang) third, 79 points.
Happy to bag another double win, Topan commented, "I am very happy and grateful to win both Race 1 and Race 2 today. I really did not expect it because my collar-bone is still not 100 percent recovered and we came to Zhuhai with hopes of only picking up maximum points. Much thanks to the team and sponsors for their endless support."
When asked to review his weekend at the Zhuhai International Circuit, Topan added, "It was a mixed outing. In the qualifying I could not clock in good lap times because of my shoulder and we faced some troubles with my Yamaha. Hence I started the race from last row. But the team mechanics did a good job rectifying all the issues before the race commenced. From there I just focused on doing the best I can without straining my injury too much," he said.
As for the team overall, Yamaha CKJ TJM Racing leads with 218 points. Second and third comes Kawasaki NHK Rextor Manual Tech and PETRONAS Syntium Moto Yamaha AHM with 172 points and 147 points respectively."