The second season of the hotly-contested SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE got underway at the weekend at Johor Circuit in Malaysia with two different race winners and close, exciting racing throughout.
Run as part of the 2016 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, SAC is Suzuki’s rider development program - produced and directed by former MotoGP and World Superbike rider Yukio Kagayama - for Asian riders; and with the goal of training and grooming them to become competitive and potential candidates in moving up to MotoGP™. All riders take part on identically-prepared Suzuki FU150 machinery.
The double-header race day saw Indonesian #20 Jefri Tosema take victory in the opening event. Although the holeshot went to #43 April King Mascardo (Philippines), Tosema soon took back the lead and control of the race until the chequered flag. Malaysian #12 Rozaliman Zakaria finished second, while Tosema’s Indonesian team-mate Rizal Feriyadi finished third.
Pole-setter Tosema took the lead for the first half of the second race, but his rivals refused to let him dominate, with Zakaria, Feriyadi, Mascardo and 14 year old #22 Eane Jaye Solacito Sobretodo (Philippines) in the picture. The battle continued until the last lap, with several lead changes along the way: Tosema took the lead again on the final lap, but made a sudden pit stop, which was later discovered was a miscommunication with his mechanic, as Zakaria took the chequered flag, followed by Mascardo and Feriyadi.
Round 2 of SAC/ ARRC is scheduled to take place on May 6-8th at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Jefri Tosema – Race 1 Winner:
“There are many fast riders in SAC, and so it is not an easy, so I feel fantastic to have won the race! I lacked some power, so I allowed my rivals to overtake me at Turn 1, but I am going to try to have a perfect weekend in Thailand!”
Rozaliman Zakaria – Race 2 Winner:
“After Race 1, I changed my settings to have better acceleration rather than top speed. I concentrated on winning the race, so I am very happy that I did. I am now leading the championship, so I hope to continue being on the podium and keep that spot for myself.”
Yukio Kagayama – General Manager:
“We have a very high level of riders this year, and they showed us an exciting race from the first race of the year. Watching them from the trackside, I still see some of them riding roughly, and there was also a mechanic error in Race 2, which changed the results, so I plan to not only coach the riders, but to coach the mechanics as well! Thank you Suzuki and Dunlop, our sponsors, and especially the fans!”