Malaysia’s Zaidi blasts way to win SuperSports 600cc in ARRC

Chennai: Amidst dramatic crashes and in searing heat with track temperatures soaring to 63 degrees, Malaysian rider Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi, astride a Honda machine, powered his way to victory in the premier SuperSports 600cc class as battles for leaderboard positions intensified in the fifth and penultimate round of the Asia Road Racing Championship at the MMRT track here on Saturday.

Zaidi started second on the grid behind pole-sitter Keminth Kubo (Japan, Yamaha), but eased to the front early in the 16-lap race. He then kept his nerve even as two other Japanese Taiga Hada (Honda) and Yuki Ito (Yamaha) scrapped for the other two podium spots to post his second win of the season. Hada finished second ahead of Ito.

Meanwhile, championship leader Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, nursing an injury following a high-side crash during Friday’s third free practice session, qualified 15th, but limped home in 10th place which earned him enough points to maintain his lead on the leaderboard with 124 points while Zaidi and Hada are level in second overall with 118, ahead of Sunday’s second race.

India’s Shankar Sarath Kumar achieved his objective of doing a one minute, 46-second lap, but could not make headway in the competitive 600cc field and finished a lap down in 12th spot.

In the Asia Production 250cc category, Indonesian Gerry Salim, who was expected to seal the title in the first race on Saturday, crashed twice during the warm-up lap and sat out of the race.

In his absence, Tomoyoshi Koyama (Japan) scored his first AP250 win but not before holding off Thailand’s Anupab Sarmoon who eventually finished second. Indonesia’s Galang Hendra Pratama came in third. Indian entry Rajiv Sethu ended up 19th.

Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam, on a Honda, chalked up his third win of the season in the Underbone 150cc class in a tight finish after surviving close attention from Mohd Haziq Mohd Fairues (Yamaha) and Azroy Hakeem Anuar (Honda) for an all-Malaysian podium.

Rajiv clinched the title in the Honda CBR 250 (Open) category of the MMSC One-Make Championship despite finishing fifth in the support race which was won by Deepak Ravikumar.

The 10 points that Rajiv earned took his tally to 179 points, well clear of second-placed Hari Krishnan Rajagopal (145) who in turn is 39 ahead of Anish Shetty, with just one more race to be run on Sunday.

Arun Muthukrishnan took the honours in the other support race, the TVS Apache 200 (Open) where Sivanesan, who finished third behind Anand Kumar, has already clinched the title.