SEPANG HOSTS OPENING ROUND OF 2011 ASIA ROAD RACING CHAMPIONSHIP

Published on April 28th, 2011

As in previous years, Asia’s prestigious motorcycling series – the PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship – kicks off its new season at Sepang Circuit with the 2011 season opener this weekend to be opened for free for racing fans to enjoy.

Event promoter – Two Wheels Motor Racing Sdn Bhd (TWMR) had announced that the move not to impose any admission fee on spectators for the opening round was aimed at wooing in more fans to the event as well as a gesture of appreciation for its loyal followerd.

In a statement issued by TWMR, it said: “There will be no admission fee for the opening round at Sepang International Circuit (North Track) on April 29 to May 1. In other words, it’s free of charge for motorsports fans to watch the race on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“In previous seasons, tickets to the PETRONAS ARRC which features the highly-competitive SuperSports 600cc and Underbone was priced at RM20,” the statement added.

Explaining further, TWMR Promotions Director, Ron Hogg said the fee was lifted with intentions of pulling in a much bigger crowd and giving back to its followers.

“We want to see a much bigger crowd next weekend. Hence we absorbed the fee with hopes of reducing costs for fans to get to Sepang seeing that it is situated quite far from major cities,” added Ron, who encourage supporters to come and attend the race as it would be very exciting with a lot of Malaysian riders taking part in both the SuperSports 600cc and Underbone 115cc category.

“Marking its 16th season, the PETRONAS ARRC has grown to become a benchmark for Asian riders to measure where they stand in competitive racing and right now we have quite a number of local talents participating in this Championship.

“Hopefully with a lot of supporters next weekend our riders can have a great start to another new season as once again they up against the best riders from Asia who come with very strong credentials,” he said, adding that the opening round would also feature two support races – the Under 17 Challenge and National Production 135cc Challenge.

After Sepang, the Championship will head to Sentul Circuit, Indonesia for its second leg (June 10-12), the Madras Motor Race Track, India (August 5-7), the Autopolis International Race Course, Japan (September 9 -11), Zhuhai International Circuit in China (October 14-26), ending at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar (December 9-11).

While it would feature some of the region’s top riders, fans, however, would miss the slick skills of veteran Ahmad Fuad Baharudin, who had announced that he would not be returning to the SuperSports 600cc grid this season.

Vice champion in 2007 and 2008, the former PETRONAS Yamaha rider said that he had decided to quit his ARRC racing career to make way for younger riders to move up to the next level.

Having competed for the past decade, the 32-year old Fuad believes it’s the right time for him to retire from ARRC.

“I am not hanging up my racing boots just yet as I have the intention to continue racing in the SuperSports 600cc. I am only not racing in ARRC as I am well aware that there are plenty of young riders coming up and I hope my exit from ARRC will benefit those that have been selected to fill my empty spot,” said Fuad, who would continue to compete in the Malaysian Super Series Supersports Championship, which he won in 2007.

The new 2011 season would also witness the entry of the new Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia, which had roped in Fuad’s team-mate in 2010, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman.

Third overall last year, Azlan Shah would be partnering Mohd Suhadi Ali Rahmat and Mohd Emir Firdaus Hasan.

In preparation for the season, the trio recently attended a one-week comprehensive training programme, which the 27-year old Azlan said had been very fruitful for himself and the team.

Declaring that the programme had helped him to gain a better understanding on the Honda machine, Azlan said: “I am really grateful that my team, Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia sent us to Japan in preparation for the 2011 season. Definitely, I didn come back empty handed and I am ready to put into practice what I have learnt.

“After a number of testing session at Sepang and Johor Circuit, I am satisfied with the machine performance and I have no issue adapting to it. Come rain or shine, my target for this weekend race is to get a spot on the podium,” he added.

Fans can catch Free Practice 1 and Qualifying 1 sessions tomorrow while Saturday will feature Free Practice 2 and Qualifying 2. Sunday will feature the two compulsory races.

words & pix: SIC

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