The 2016 SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE stepped-up a gear at the fourth and penultimate round at Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia at the weekend with close an exciting racing aboard the new Suzuki F150s and with the top three riders in the championship now separated by just three points.
Both SAC races were held on Day 3 of the FIM Asia Road Race Championship under hot conditions and in the qualifying session the previous day, local favourite, #20 Jefri Tosema (Indonesia) lapped to a course-record of 1’58.552 for pole position ahead of team-mate and points leader, #87 Muhammad Sapril (Indonesia) and Malaysia’s #12 Rozaliman Zakaria.
Race 1 started with the front row riders leading a pack of nine riders, which continued the end of the race with continuous lead changes and side-by-side, nose-to-tail action. But Tosema put an end to all that and won the opening race with a comfortable lead on the final lap. The 2015 SAC winner at Sentul, #5 Jagan Kumar from India came in second, while #30 Rizal Feriyadi (Indonesia) completed the podium with third.
It was a repeat of Race 1, as Race 2 started with 10 riders running in a pack at the front. Tosema and #43 April King Mascardo (Philippines) led the pack until the latter half of the race as Tosema and April tried to run away from the pack. The other riders would not allow that, and Rozaliman and Sapril made sure they were right behind them. The battle got tighter as they approached the final corner on the final lap, where the four riders turned at almost the same time. Rozaliman put a stop to the battle, and won Race 2, while Tosema came in second followed by Mascardo.
SAC has now one more round to go, schedule for December 2-4th at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand where Tosema and Rozaliman are tied at the top with 127 points, with Sapril right behind them with 124 points.
#20 Jefri Tosema – Race 1 Winner:
“I had family and friends come to cheer me this weekend, and I was doing well, so I was confident. I was going to hold myself until the penultimate lap, so it went as planned and was able to win. This is my fourth podium, so I plan to do the same at the final round so that I can win the Championship.”
#12 Rozaliman Zakaria – Race 2 Winner:
“I had a good feeling with my Satria this weekend, so I was pretty confident. I was planning to pull a lead at the final corner in Race 1, but that plan did not work. I changed my sprocket setting for Race 2 to get better acceleration in Race 2, and that worked well. I am now leading the Championship, so I will train both mentally and physically for the final round in Thailand to win the Championship.”
Yukio Kagayama – General Manager:
“I am happy to see that both races were exciting. Race 1 was a typical SAC race, where the riders raced in a pack, and Jefri would pull out of it to win the race. Four riders battled until the finish line in Race 2, and was a close call as all of them crossed the finish line at almost the same time, but Rozaliman won the race. The riders showed me big improvement, not only in speed but also in fairness, so I am happy to see that. We have four months to the final round, but I hope the riders would spend it well and come to the final round well-prepared.”
Shunji Yatsushiro – Rider Coach:
“Tosema showed dominating speed in Race 1, and Race 2 was a close start-to-finish battle so I was able to enjoy both races. The chase for the title is now getting very tense. The final round will be the last chance for the riders to show what they have accomplished and the title chase should be even tighter. I am looking forward to the final round.”
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