THE roads around the busy Esplanade waterfront and Light Street in Penang will be closed this weekend but it will not be short of activities.
Instead the usually peaceful and quite Esplanade, which has often proven to be a favourite haunt for tourists and locals alike, particularly on weekends, will be buzzing with noise from that of racing machines.
With the roads improved and security measures stepped up, these public roads are set to be transformed into a 1.52km street circuit.
Fittingly, it is for a battle royale when the final round showdown of the Petronas-AAM Malaysian Cub Prix revs off with an air of intensity on Sunday.
This should derive from the battle for honours in the Premier category of the CP130 class which holds the promise of a nail-biting thriller and a winner takes all final showdown.
A clear reflection of such a battle is indeed in store if the closeness of this year’s challenge is to be used as a yardstick where a mere two points separate the top three racers as they go into this Sunday’s final round.
Leading the pack into this cruncher is Honda’s Norizman Ismail, who after having collected 146 points to date, is eager to maintain his leadership right up to the finish.
But with Ahmad Fazli Sham of Shell Advanced breathing down his neck with just a point behind and third placed Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah another point adrift, it can be anyone’s race.
Norizman, 25, a Harian Metro SCK Honda rider, can expect to have a serious fight on his hands as Ahmad Fazli and Hafizh are equally experienced in handling such a tight situation.
This was evident when Ahmad Fazli bagged the Premier Class title in 2007 and 2008.
Hafizh, though just 16, has made his team, the Petronas Sprinta Yamaha Raceline, proud by showing consistency and winning back to back honours from Round Six to Round Eight.
As if that is not enough, even fourth placed Zamri Baba of Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM has a chance to grab the crown.
Zamri, who is going into the final round challenge with 127 points, will need to take the chequered flag, and hope that his three rivals will falter in their challenge in order to make it happen.
Norizman, however, is unfazed by the looming threat as he is confident of tackling the Penang Street Circuit, no matter how tricky it appears to be.
“What matters most at this stage is an outright win. I will give my best in this final leg showdown and I am confident that as long as I can keep my nose in front, I should be on the right track.”
He already got his name into the Cub Prix’s Racing history books by emerging as the youngest rider ever to win the Expert Class at the age of 20 in 2005.
Fazli, who is fully aware of the winner takes all situation in Penang, is hoping that lady luck will smile at him for a change after being made to experience one hiccup too many, in the second half of the season this year.
“It would have been a run-away season for me if I had been able to maintain the sort of performances which brought two victories in Race 1 and Race 4, and finishing second in Race 2 and 4.
“It is just unfortunate as technical complication crept into my challenge after that. It has not only taken its toll on my campaign, but it has allowed both Norizman and Hafizh to narrow down my advantage.
“However, there’s still a chance for me to wrap up my campaign on a high. I am ready to put those disappointments behind me and regain the crown I last won in 2008.”
With such intentions on the card, racing fans not only from Penang, but those from neighbouring states can expect to be in for a treat.
With 70,000 people making their way to the Esplanade when motor racing was revived at the Esplanade Street Circuit last year, it will be a big surprise if this year’s final round challenge is to boast of another record turnout.
Top five leading riders (into the final round):
CP 130: Indivdual:
1. Norizman Ismail (Harian Metro SCK Honda Racing) 146 pts
2. Ahmad Fazli (Shell Advance Yamaha Maju) 145 pts
3. Hafizh Syahrin (Sprinta Yamahya AHM Racing) 144 pts
4. Mohd Zamri Baba (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM Racing 129 pts
5. Ahmad Fuad Baharudin (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM Racing) 100 pts
1. Petronas Sprinta Yamaha Racing (236 pts)
2. Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM RAcing (227 pts)
3. Shell Advance Yamaha Maju (196 pts)
4. Harian Metro SCK Honda Racing (194 pts)
5. Idemistu Honda Racing (72 pts)
CP 115: Individual
1. Mohd Ramdan Mohd Rosli (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM Racing) 162 pts
2. Mohd Rozaiman Mohd Said (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing) 140 pts
3. Mohd Adli Salihin (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing) 118 pts
4. Mohd Iskandar Raduan (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing) 118 pts
5. Shahril Izzuwan Mohd Noor (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha AHM Racing) 98 pts
1.Petronas Sprinta Yahama AHM Racing (260 pts)
2. Petronas Sprinta Yamaha Raceline (181 pts)
3. Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing (168 pts)
4. Faito Yamaha Boon Kui Racing (81 pts)
5. Modenas Yuzy Pachie 2 (60 pts)
1. Mohd Adip Rosley (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing) 166pts
2. Mohd Azhar Abdul Jalil (Motul Yamaha YY Pang Racing) 133pts
3. Mohd Syawalludin Mohd Zaki (Modenas FortyOne Racing) 125pts
4. Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali (Caviaga Modenas Cilik Racing) 102pts
5. Zulsyafiz Rosli (MOS Yamaha Racing) 88pts