With 2 laps to go Azlan Shah (OneXoX TKKR SAG Racing Team) pulls ahead Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand) to make history when he became the first winner of the inaugural ASB1000 class in the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship.
It was also the 35-year-old’s first outing with new team ONEXOX TKKR SAG Racing Team.
The Malaysian rider started the race from second on the grid, sandwiched between pole sitter Thitipong Warokorn and fellow Malaysian Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi in third.
Australian Broc Parkes, who had been a formidable competitor all week long, crashed out during the morning qualifying practice. His best qualifying time of 2’06.808s placed him sixth on the grid behind Indonesian Ahmad Yudhistira and Chaiwichit Nisakul.
A flying start from Thitipong gave him the holeshot. The Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team rider was able to quickly gain some distance on the chasing Azlan. Behind him, Broc Parkes made a mistake at Turn 1 and dropped further down the group to eighth.
The gap between Thitipong and Azlan began to narrow on Lap 7, while at the same time Yamaha Racing Team ASEAN’s Broc Parkes had clawed his way up to third. By then, Broc was 2.7 seconds adrift of the leaders and the remaining four laps looked to be a two-rider race.
Thitipong tried to respond to Azlan’s pressure on Lap 9 but seemed to have over-cooked his tyres. Azlan took the lead at the entry of the last corner and immediately opened up a gap on Lap 10. As the chequered flag came down on Lap 11, Azlan became the first official winner of the ASB1000 class with 23’21.172s. Thitipong and Broc maintained their respective positions to join Azlan on the podium.
“I tried to overtake Thitipong at the start of the race, but he was racing very hard. So I decided to settle down and wait for the closing laps while keeping my tyres fresh. I knew my chance would come soon when I saw Thitipong sliding all over the place on Lap 5,” said Azlan who dedicated this win to his new team, the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Racing Team.
Azlan’s Race 1 win could not have come at a better time. All day long throughout the season opener of the 2019 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, the Malaysian riders had missed out on the chance to stand on the top step of the podium in the Underbone 150cc, Asia Production 250cc and SuperSports 600cc categories.
The SuperSports 600cc Race 1 win went to Thai rider Peerapong Boonlert, flanked by Malaysians Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin and Adam Norrodin on the podium. The Asia Production 250cc Race 1 was an all-Indonesian affair with rookie Lucky Hendriansya leading the way while the anticipated Malaysian clean sweep in the Underbone 150cc was denied by Filipino newcomer McKinley Kyle Paz.
The riders will meet again for Race 2 at 1.00pm on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Entry to the Sepang Circuit grandstands are free for the public.