The 2011 PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) came to an epic end with senior, Katsuaki Fujiwara and rookie, Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah scoring a chequered flag each at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar today.
Although safely crowned 2011 SuperSports 600cc Overall Champion, Fujiwara of Manual Tech BEET Kawasaki Racing did not hold back as he went all out to secure his eight consecutive victory for the season in Race 1. However, it was far from an easy outing for the 36-year old.
Still not fully recovered from his fever, Fujiwara found himself overpowered in the early parts of the race by rookie, Hafizh of PETRONAS Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline and compatriot, Mohd Zamri Baba (PETRONAS Yamaha Malaysia).
The trio went toe-to-toe with Hafizh leading the pack for most parts of the race but come lap 13, hewas forced to pace-down following issues with the rear suspensions.
There onwards Fujiwara took control followed by Zamri but the Japanese national proved superior to cross the finish line first place with a total time of 32:01.257s, just 0.002s ahead of his Malaysian rival who recorded 32:01.259s while Hafizh came in third, 2:07.119s.
In Race 2, Hafizh returned with added confidence and this time around the 17-year successfully spearheaded the race from start to finish before landing his first SuperSports 600cc win two years into this class. The 2011 Malaysian Moto2 wildcard ended the 15-lap race with a total time of 32:02.780s followed by Zamri second, 32:03.929s and Fujiwara third, 32:05.205s.
Even more impressive, Hafizh set the record as the youngest to ever win a SuperSports 600cc race at 17-years old. On cloud nine, Hafizh commented, “I’m very grateful to score my first win. It was something I always dream of and to achieve it feels awesome! Much thanks to the team, PETRONAS Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline, sponsors and everyone who has supported me.”
Hafizh went on to add, “I had a great outing today. In both races I was able to steal the holeshot even though I started third on the grid. In Race 1 I faced some difficulties because the gap between the frontrunners were very close and furthermore my rear suspension got soft towards the end of the race. As a result, I lost my lead with three more laps to go. It was not what I wanted but I am still grateful.
“Race 2 on the other hand was much better. Once again I was able to lead the race but this time strong enough to defend it to the finish line despite the tyres sliding alot midway. In a nutshell, winning the SuperSports 600cc in my second year is a really awesome experience,” said Hafizh.
Meanwhile, Fujiwara who had already sealed the title in Zhuhai assessed the race at Losail and said, “It was really tough. I am not feeling well and this affected my concentration on the track. In addition in Race 1 I did not feel comfortable with the rear tyre and in Race 2 because I wanted to create a lap record, the tyre wore out fast. By the seventh lap, it got really slippery and the cool temperature of the asphalt just made things more difficult. Even so I am really happy because this is our maiden year in the Championship and already we are winning alot. Hopefully I can win again next season.”
Fujiwara tops the overall standings with 237.5 points while Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia) lands second with 162 points having finished fifth for Race 1 and Race 2 today. Meanwhile, Zamri concludes the season third overall with 147 points and Hafizh takes fourth, 135 points.
Best Thai rider, Decha Kraisat (Yamaha Thailand Racing) sits in fifth position shares 90.5 points with Indonesian representative, Doni Tata Pradita (Yamaha Indonesia Racing) sixth while Team Suzuki Pilipinas rider, Yusuke Teshima ends the season 12th overall with 41.5 points.
As for the team awards, Manual Tech BEET Kawasaki Racing own the point charts with 237.5 points followed by Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia second, 169 point and PETRONAS Yamaha Malaysia third, 167 points.