KRANJI, SINGAPORE, 10 DECEMBER 2017 – Singapore welcomed its inaugural FIM Asia SuperMoto Championship with a bright morning. However, a treacherous track awaited the riders with a full asphalt 18 tight corner race at the KF1 Karting Circuit proved to be difficult for some riders. This would mean that a holeshot will most likely determine the front-runner given that the rider makes little mistakes during the race.
While United Kingdom’s Lewis Cornish, Thailand’s Trakarn Thangthong and Malaysia’s Khairi Zakaria maintained their outstanding performance on the track, returning champion Malaysia’s Muhd Habibullah set ablaze the track with a strong comeback after a severe Motocross injury in October 2017.
The pressure to secure the top spot also catapult with Denmark’s S1GP rider, Simon Vilhelmsen, and Japan’s Yasushi Matsumoto, who have stunned the crowd and riders upon entering the track for the Free Practice session in the morning.
Qualifying and SuperChrono Report
The Qualifying race that started shortly after the Free Practice session began at a slower pace. Muhd Habibullah was the first to enter the track, followed by Trakan and Khairi. However, the rhythm on track was transformed immediately after Lewis’ entry that has proven to be a threat to secure the best lap time.
Muhd Habibullah was seen to be familiarising the track at the first 20 minutes of Qualifying and resumed to his usual self with a drastic improvement in his positioning from the eighth place to the third position. Habibullah completed the Qualifying round with the best lap time of 49.559.
On the other hand, Lewis and Khairi maintained their top performance at the Qualifying session, completing the top two spots with a best lap time of 49.129 and 49.180 respectively.
The top 6 qualifiers competed in the SuperChrono race was a show stopper. With the tracks clear from other bikes, it quickly became a playground for the riders to surf through the track. SuperChorno marked the fastest lap time seen throughout the day, as Lewis achieved an impressive fastest lap time of 48.384.
Lewis’ well-strategised race supported by his team Kenny Motorworks Tekmo Racing, conserved his energy for Moto 1 by surpassing Simon’s timing only when it is necessary.
The chase for the top 2 grid position between Lewis and Simon became a game of its own, while the remaining four riders – Khairi Zakaria, Muhd Habibullah, Trakarn Thangthong and Yasushi Matsumoto – tailed one another, waiting for an opportunity to overtake the front rider and secure a better lap time.
A notable action was spotted by Khairi Zakaria as he applies the ‘knee-out’ technique instead of the ‘leg-out’ technique usually practised by SuperMoto riders.
“I tried both techniques but the knee-out technique gave more stability for my bike. The steep corners that would utilise the side of the wheels which do not have any grip causes the bike to slip and had to be balanced with the knee instead of the heel,” said Khairi.
The pole position was secured by Lewis, followed by Simon, Khairi, Habibullah, Trakarn and Yasushi.
The glorious sound of SuperMoto shook the grandstand of the KF1 Karting Circuit signalling a start to the first official race of the championship in Singapore. Scoreboard leader Lewis Cornish once again stole the holeshot which was the determining factor to lead the race. Knowing that Simon was a split second trailing behind, he cannot afford to make any mistake.
However, the Danish superstar rider took a toll on his first race as was struck by an unexpected front brake malfunction causing him to finish the race earlier than expected.
“My front brake overheated and it stopped working. I returned to the pit twice hoping that this would solve the problem but it did not happen. It was really tough without the brakes.” said Simon.
“We will replace the brake fluid, and we will have to try again. If this continues, I think it is just not my day today and will try my best the next round in Malaysia.”
Lewis, on the other hand, expressed his happiness that Simon was out of the race as he was a challenging rival. “Coming into the second lap, I knew that he was facing some difficulty with his bike, causing him to fall behind. But I continued to distant the gap from the other riders, especially with the rest catching up.”
Lewis Cornish completed a total of 28 laps with the best lap time of 48.509 and a total time of 23:31.018.
Behind the UK rider was Malaysia’s ace Muhd Habibullah who was still recuperating from his injury. At the beginning of the race, was caught in a four-way battle with Japan’s Yasushi Matsumoto, Thailand’s Trakarn Thangthong and his compatriot Khairi Zakaria, but the 2016 champion knew what he had to do to maintain his second position.
“The wound still hurts, especially during the race. I did not perform well during the Free Practice, Qualifying and SuperChrono session. However, I was in luck that Yasushi, Khairi and Trakarn fell behind at the first corner, and soon after distant themselves from me,” said Habibullah.
When asked about his injury and performance for Moto 2, he quickly said that hopefully he will be able to bear the pain and will have the same momentum as Moto 1. “It was the feeling after distancing myself from the pack that gave me more confidence to maintain my position. I sincerely hope that this injury will not be a problem in Moto 2.”
Muhd Habibullah completed the race with a total of 28 laps, the best lap time of 49.286 and a total time of 23:43.105.
Khairi was not pleased with the result as Yasushi continually blocked him throughout the whole race. “He blocked my path a few times, and with Trakarn right behind taking his chances to surpass, this created more tension throughout the race.”
However, with 26 laps into the race, Trakarn saw an opening and took his chance against Khairi. It succeeds, and landed him the fourth in the grid for Moto 2.
“The track is concise with many tight turns, making it hard to pass Khairi and Yasushi.”
“I was happy that I finally passed Khairi, and hope that I can once again be leading the race.”
When asked about his under-performed race compared to the previous rounds in Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan, he uttered that the track and the riders’ performance put on a lot of pressure on him. “It makes a difference when the riders are performing well today. Plus, this is a very challenging yet fun track, and I really enjoyed it. I hope that I will have a good start in Moto 2 to improve my performance.”
Trakarn Thangthong completed with a total of 28 laps, the best lap time of 49.353 and a total time of 23:48.437; while Khairi Zakaria completed Moto 1 with 28 laps, the best lap time of 49.445, and a total time of 23:48.565.
Japan’s Yasushi Matsumoto was given a 20-second penalty for riding off-track, and will begin from the fifth on grid in Moto 2.
The torrential downpour accompanied with lightning that came immediately after the grid line-up has forced the juries and organiser to cancel Moto 2. This decision was made due to the rider’s safety concerns.
Results and standing points are based on Moto 1’s result, crowning United Kingdom’s Lewis Cornish the 2017 FIM Asia SuperMoto Championship – Singapore’s Open International Class Champion. While Malaysia’s Muhd Habibullah takes the top Asian Class podium spot for the first time this season.
The final round of the 2017 FIM Asia SuperMoto Championship will commence at Bukit Jalil, Malaysia, on 16 and 17 December 2017.
|Pos||No.||National||Name||Laps||Best Time||Total Time|
|12||102||HKG||TSANG WAI KEI||18||53.814||28:35.096|
|13||720||TWN||LIN CHIN PEI||2||54.610||13:34.168|
|Pos||No.||National||Name||Best Lap Time|
Moto 1 Result:
|Pos||No.||National||Name||Laps||Best Time||Total Time|
|11||102||HKG||TSANG WAI KEI||26||53.251||23:59.134|
|14||720||TWN||LIN CHIN PEI||25||54.443||24:09.374|