Malaysian riders retain Endurance Road Race title at Suzuka

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian riders have done it again!

Mohd Emir Firdaus Hasan and Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi grabbed the top honours in the 4-hour category of the Suzuka 8-hour Endurance Road Race at the Suzuka Circuit yesterday.

The Boon Siew Honda Racing Malaysia boys defended the title they won last year by completing 100 laps at the Suzuka track in 4’01:33.002 – just 8.655s ahead of Iwata Racing Family (Shotaro Ogura and Seiji Tarumi) who clocked 4’01:41.657.

Club Plus One riders Koichi Endo and Yuki Mimino (4’02:12.789) were third.

“Words can’t express how happy we are to have won the 4-hour title again,” said Emir, who combined with Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman en route to victory last year.

“We knew, at the start of the race, that it was going to be tough. In fact, we initially aimed for a top-five finish.”

Debutant Zaqhwan, who has only had a year’s experience in the 600cc class thus far, said the Suzuka win has boosted his confidence to perform better when the next round of the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) is held at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China next weekend.

“I hope to keep up the momentum in Zhuhai next weekend for the third leg of the ARRC,” said the 17-year-old.

A slow take-off resulted in Zaqhwan dropping from second on the starting grid to 13th in Suzuka yesterday but he displayed great determination to move up and trail leader Taiki Sato (Link Well Racing) in the seventh lap.

Sato crashed out in the 77th lap, handing Zaqhwan the lead. But the long hours on the bike began to take its toll on the youngster and he ran wide, leaving Ogura to grab the lead.

A crucial final pit-in saw Emir get back on the bike to power his way past Ogura’s team-mate Tarumi in the 85th lap before sealing victory.

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