Broc Parkes victorious at Suzuka | ARRC Round 4

Asia Road Racing Championship 2019

Round 4 – Suzuka Circuit

By Barry Russell & Nathan Russell

Of the 100 riders competing at Suzuka this year in the Asia Road Racing Championship, 17 were wildcards, from young Japanese riders looking for international experience to tough veterans of the All Japan series intending to teach the regular stars a lesson or two.

ARRC Rnd Japan Wet pits
Wet conditions added a further challenge -Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Broc Parkes of Yamaha Racing ASEAN arrived at Suzuka leading the ASB 1000 Championship after retaining his position with second and fourth place finishes at Chang International in Round 3. Behind the Australian, Azlan Shah Kamuruzaman of ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team was heading to Japan on a wave of momentum after his double win at Buriram.

ARRC Rnd Japan Broc Parkes Grid ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes on the grid

Bryan Staring made his third appearance for Kawasaki Thailand, once again replacing the injured Thitipong Warakorn. Staring placed seventh in both ASB 1000 races in the previous round.

14-year-old Travis Hall was returning to Suzuka for his second year in the Underbone 150 class, riding a Hi Rev SCK Honda Racing Team machine.

The premier ASB 1000 class was making its first appearance at the legendary Japanese track, having been announced there just one year ago.

ARRC Rnd Japan wet weather
Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

The full motorcycle circuit is 5.8 kilometres long, with 18 bends for the riders to manoeuvre. Suzuka has one of the most notable elevation changes in motorsport, with the highest point being at the infamous Spoon Curve, and the lowest 40 metres under it at turn 2, following the 900 metre, downhill straight. Uneasy weather looked set to play a part over the weekend, with rain forecast for all three days of racing.

Asia Superbike 1000

Broc Parkes’s experience and endurance racing credentials made this the closest thing to a home race for him in the ARRC calendar. With the far less familiar Zuhai, Sepang and Chang International circuits coming up for the last three rounds, Yamaha Racing ASEAN were aiming for nothing less than a double to set up his title run for the second half of the season.

By contrast, ASBK championship leader, Bryan Staring, was making his racing debut at the Suzuka Circuit, and therefore leaning on the advantage of superbike experience he held over most of the field.

ARRC Rnd Japan P Bryan Staring ARRC Suzuka
Bryan Staring – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Parkes’s main title rival, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, arrived at Suzuka with plenty of track time too in the 8 Hours and holding the Supersport qualifying lap record, which he set in 2018.

Despite forecasts of rain and an overnight typhoon on Thursday, threatening clouds made way for blue skies on Friday, leaving a dry track and a sense of relief with teams and riders.

Honda Asia Dream Racing’s Zaqhwan Zaidi posted a strong 2:09.874 in free practice two to record the fastest time of the day, pipping Apiwath Wongthananon of Yamaha Thailand who stopped the clock at 2:09.893, and Yamaha ASEAN’s Yuki Ito who was less than a tenth further back.

ARRC Rnd Japan P Azlan Shah ARRC Suzuka
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Zaqhwan used track experience and skill to post the fastest time despite a heavy tumble in the third practice session, escaping unscathed. Similarly, Ito also crashed heavily in second practice but without injury.

Championship frontrunner Broc Parkes of Yamaha ASEAN placed fifth with a steady ride, under half a second off pacesetter Zaidi. Azlan Shah fared less well, placing seventh with a fastest lap time of 2:10.849 set in the third session of practice.

Kawasaki Thailand stand-in Bryan Staring ultimately finished twelfth, after wrecking his Kawasaki in FP1 and having to sit out FP2. Koji Teramoto of Teramoto@J-Trip was the best of the wildcards, recording the sixth fastest lap of the day in 2:10.84, under a second behind Zaidi.

ARRC Rnd Japan P Zaqwan Zaidi ARRC Suzuka
Zaqwan Zaidi – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Suzuka, as ever, had her say in free practice, claiming 28 fallers, the worst of which belonged to Yuki Ito, who broke an ankle and skinned his left little finger. However, Yuki’s well-tested lionhearted nature ruled out any suggestion him going home early. While podiums seemed unlikely, he resolved to ride for as many points as possible.

Despite continuing rain forecasts, qualifying on Saturday also went ahead on a dry track.

Zaqhwan continued his imperious run through to securing pole, improving his practice time by a hundredth of a second, relegating Yamaha Thailand teammates Ratthapong Wilairot and Apiwath Wongthananon to second and third.

Broc Parkes grabbed fourth spot, having been unable to better his practice time after losing much of the session due to a nasty crash on the spoon curve. The incident also caused plenty of damage to his Yamaha, placing his spot on the starting grid in jeopardy. His rival Azlan placed fifth, three hundredths of a second down.

Asia Superbike Race 1

The Suzuka veteran Broc Parkes claimed victory in his first race of the weekend, but he had to dig deep and use every morsel of his track knowledge to earn it following some mechanical issues.

ARRC Rnd Japan Azlan Shah Zaqhwan Zaidi ARRC Suzuka
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Broc Parkes was quick out the blocks, quickly overtaking Apiwath Wongthananon and Azlan Shah Kamarusaman and slotting in nicely to second place behind poleman Zaqhwan Zaidi, as Ratthapong Wilairot fell backwards through the field, uncomfortable on a new Dunlop medium compound rolled out for Suzuka.

As pressure on Parkes mounted on lap three, he seemed to find a false neutral under braking the Spoon corner, causing him to run wide and dropping back behind Apiwat and Azlan. Suzuka debutant Bryan Staring overcame a difficult start to the weekend to carve through to forth in the opening scramble. Staring slipped down into fifth shortly after, succumbing to a determined Broc Parkes.

ARRC Rnd Japan ASB whole pack
Asia Superbikes – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Zaqhwan dropped back following a mistake of his own, yielding first place to Azlan and second and third to Apiwat and Parkes. Broc Parkes moved into second as Azlan’s BMW struggled with his soft compound tyre choice, and then into the lead with a blistering drive around the outside onto the start-finish straight.

Meanwhile, there was an ongoing battle behind the top three for fifth place between Kawasaki Thailand’s Bryan Staring and Yuki Ito.

After momentarily regaining the lead Azlan was swiftly passed by Broc, who rode two fast laps to create an impregnable three second lead.

ARRC Rnd Japan Broc Parkes Win ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes celebrates the win – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

In the meantime, Zaqhwan recovered from his losses to take second place from Azlan, and wrestle Apiwat off the podium. Bryan Staring claimed fifth place from a threatening Yuki Ito, whilst Ratthapong trailed a further eight seconds back in seventh place in front of the weekend’s best Superbike wildcard, Belgian Bastien Mackels.

Broc further entrenched his lead with this win to 130 points, 17 in front of his nearest rival Azlan, who held on to second place over Zaqhwan.

ARRC Rnd Japan Broc Parkes Zaqhwan Zaidi Azlan Shah ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes topped the Race 1 podium – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Asia Superbike Race 2

Despite an eventful afternoon interrupted by torrential rain, wildcard Shinichi Nakatomi of HiTMAN RC-KOUSHIEN Yamaha took a brilliantly judged win on a wet track in the second ASB 1000 race of the weekend.

ARRC Rnd Japan Broc Parkes Bryan Staring ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

Sitting on pole position was Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia Dream Racing, who got off to a solid start, but was soon passed by Yamaha Thailand’s Ratthapong Wilairot, followed by Nakatomi, who astonishingly shot up the standing after starting ninth on the grid, championship leader Broc Parkes, and the injured, but not broken Yuki Ito. Azlan Shah slipped to eighth despite a fifth place start. Yamaha Thailand’s Apiwat who also fell down the places after a weak start.

Ratthapong gripped on to the lead until lap three, when Nakatomi stormed through, spraying water from the damp track as he went. The courageous Yuki Ito claimed second place from Ratthapong, who slipped back to fourth.

ARRC Rnd Japan Yuki Ito Shinichi Nakatomi Ratthapong Wilairot
Yuki Ito leads Shinichi Nakatomi and Ratthapong Wilairot – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

At mid distance Broc Parkes sat in fourth place, with a sizeable gap between himself and Ratthapong in third, but progressively wound him in and claimed the third spot. At the front of the race meanwhile, Nakatomi was fleetingly passed by Ito, before regaining his place and heading away through the spray to victory.

With two laps remaining, Broc began closing in on his teammate, the second placed Ito. On the last lap he got a good drive out of Spoon and carried past Ito.

ARRC Rnd Japan Broc Parkes ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka

While remaining close, Ito had to settle for second. Ratthapong ultimately finished fourth, five seconds behind the podium finishers, with a similar gap between himself and the fifth place Zaqhwan Zaidi. Azlan found his way past Apiwat and Victor Racing’s Ahmad Yudhistira to claim sixth. Apiwat placed eighth, winning a battle for the place with Victor Racing’s Kazuma Tsuda and Chaiwichit Nisakul and Bryan Staring of Kawasaki Thailand.

Broc Parkes had played his home advantage well, gaining 45 points, and extending his points total to 150, 27 clear of his nearest rival, Azlan who came away with 26.

ARRC Rnd Japan Shinichi Nakatomi Broc Parkes Yuki Ito ARRC Suzuka
Broc Parkes took runner up in Race 2 behind Nakatomi, with Vito third – Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 – Round 4, Suzuka



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