By Sports Reporter/Doha
Zaqhwan Zaidi clinched the SuperSports 600cc title 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 and was able to secure the title having finished Race 1 second and Race 2 as champion. Retiring Katsuaki Fujiwara (BEET Kawasaki Racing) who initially led the standings missed out on his second SuperSports title, after he completed both races outside top-10 following technical difficulties with the 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 (Hong Leong Yamaha) in second and 15 above retirement-bound Katsuaki Fujiwara (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.
“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,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gupita Kresna became the first Asian 130cc champion despite crashing during the sprint to the finish line in Race 1. Closest title contender, Norizman Ismail retired from Race 1 having encountered technical issues with his Honda
This is the fifth consecutive year an Indonesian rider has won the intermediate category. Gupita secured the title having finished Race 1 in 13th position following a huge collision with Kazuki Masaki (Team Honda RSC) on the front straight during the dash for the finish line. 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, immediate title rival, Norizman Ismail (Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing) retired from the race due to 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.
Meanwhile, Khairul Idham Pawi bid farewell to the Asia Dream Cup on a high as he chalked up another double win in the Asia Road Racing Championship.
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 he snatched lead at the first corner and disappeared into the distance in Race 1, completing the nine-lap race in 17’53.697s.
Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah, QMMF President and FIM Vice President, expresses his happiness that the final round of the season was held in Qatar. “I am very happy to host the final round of this championship for fifth year and I wish all the best to all the riders for the future,” al-Attiyah said in the grid.
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