Parkes heads Asia Superbikes despite Azlan’s Thai double

Asia Superbike 1000

It was hard to call ARRC’s new-for-2019 premier class in Thailand. It was the tenth time the series has made the trip to Buriram, but the first time any of Asia’s regular stars had raced a superbike there. On the other hand, Parkes and Staring had no track experience, but vastly more time aboard one-litre machinery. Adding to that, two rounds and four races had seen race wins from four different riders and four different manufacturers.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai ARRC Broc Parkes Apiwat
Broc Parkes – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

Daytime temperatures were in the early 30s, track temperatures in the early 40s and, while rain threatened on Friday and Saturday, there was nothing to disrupt proceedings.

The mercurial Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, lying second to Parkes in the championship after Round 2, got his green liveried ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW hooked up nicely in Friday’s free practice to finish the day top on combined times with a best lap of 1:35.518 in FP3.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Yamaha Ambient
Chang International Circuit – ARRC Round 3

That was 0.756 faster than Honda Asia Dream Racing’s Zaqhwan Zaidi, who missed the last session when he somersaulted his CBR1000RR SP on the out lap.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai ARRC Ambient Grid Fisheye
Chang International Circuit – ARRC Round 3

Apiwat Wongthananon, who showed plenty of speed at Tailem Bend, applied his track knowledge to good effect to record 1:36.416, 0.15s better than Broc, who brought his times down progressively in each session. Ahmad Yudhistira, Yuki Ito and Ratthapong Wilairot also recorded times in the 1:36s, while Bryan managed a best time of 1:37.004 to end the day eighth.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai ARRC Ambient Crowd
Chang International Circuit – ARRC Round 3

Qualifying on Saturday morning went much the same way. Azlan was unable to quite match his best free practice time, crashing in the closing moments, but still took pole with a time of 1:35.790, which edged Yamaha Thailand’s hard charging Apiwat to the middle of the front row by seven thousandths of a second.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai ARRC Buriram Ambient
Chang International Circuit – ARRC Round 3

Zaqhwan was third on 1:36.062, Parkes improved on his best practice time, recording 1:36.385, which was two hundredths better than team-mate Ito and about the same again in front of Victor Racing’s Ahmad Yudhistira.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Bryan Staring Chaiwichit Nisakul
Bryan Staring – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

Bryan got his times into the 1:36s and ended up sandwiched on the third row between Ratthapong and Access Plus Ducati’s TJ Alberto, who was promoted to ninth after Chaiwichit Nisakul crashed and broke his left wrist after recording 1:36.978 early in the session.

Asia Superbike Race 1

Rain clouds gathered overhead and spattered the grid for race one’s 13 laps on Saturday afternoon. The threat of rain faded on the warm-up lap and when the lights went out Apiwat got the best launch from the middle of the front row to lead poleman Azlan first time around, from Zaqhwan, who found himself holding off the three Yamahas of Ito, Yudhistira and Ratthapong and the Kawasaki of Bryan Staring. TJ Alberto, headed the rest of the field.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Azlan Apiwat Zaqhwan
Azlan Shah – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

At mid distance Azlan and Apiwat had got around one second clear, only for Zaqhwan to close them back down, bringing Broc Parkes and Yuki Ito with him. There was little to choose between the Malaysian and the Thai at the front, until Apiwat ran wide at turn 12 at the end of lap nine, falling back to fifth, before mounting a recovery.

Zaqhwan made a bid to catch the green BMW, leaving Broc and Ito in a squabble with Apiwat, as the Thai rider fought his way back. At the end Azlan swept to his second win of the season six tenths clear of compatriot, Zaqhwan, while Apiwat got in front of Ito, then Broc, to take third.

Three-and-a-half seconds further back, Ratthapong came through to sixth, holding off Bryan and Yudhistira. TJ came through to ninth ahead of Farid Badrul on the second ONEXOX TKKR SAG BMW, Kazuma Tsuda and Jonathan Serrapica.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Bryan Staring Group ARRC Chang
Bryan Staring – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

Asia Superbike Race 2

Lessons learned on Saturday produced a very different race on Sunday, which was run under clear skies and slightly hotter temperatures. Azlan got his BMW away well, from Broc Parkes, Zaqhwan Zaidi and Yuki Ito. Apiwat Wongthananon was slow off the line, but quickly fought his way through to third, as Zaqhwan dropped slightly off the pace.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Azlan Shah Race Group
Azlan Shah – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

Broc, then Apiwat got past Azlan. The Australian was unable to break clear, but his Thai and Malaysian challengers were also unable to get past as the race moved into its late stages. The game changed on the final lap as Azlan moved past Apiwat to take second and put Broc under pressure.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Azlan Shah ARRC Round
Azlan Shah – Asia Superbike – ARRC Round 3

Apiwat fought back and the three approached Chang’s notorious turn 12 together. Azlan moved to the inside of Parkes, lost the front under braking, picked his BMW back up and scrambled to the line to complete the double a wheel in front of Broc, who was just four thousandths clear of Apiwat.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Azlan Shah Broc Parkes Apiwat Wongthananon
Azlan Shah, Broc Parkes, Apiwat Wongthananon – ARRC Round 3, 2019

Zaqhwan held steady to take fourth, a second clear of Ahmad Yudhistira, who did another brilliant job for Victor Racing Team as the top privateer. Yuki Ito, who went back after a promising start, finished sixth ahead of Bryan for Kawasaki Thailand.

Parkes stays at the top of the standings after another solid weekend’s work, moving up to 105 points, while Azlan’s double brings him to 97 ahead of Zaqhwan on 84.

ARRC Rnd Chang Thai Azlan Shah Broc Parkes Apiwat Podium
Asia Superbike Podium – ARRC Round 3

2019 ARRC Round 3 – Asia Superbike Results


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *