Honda’s Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman of Malaysia encountered hot weather conditions and a bumpy track to finish first in the SuperSports (600cc) qualifying round of the Round three Petronas Asia road racing championship for two-wheelers at the Madras Motor Race Track near here on Saturday.
In an effort to make optimum use of the tyres in the withering heat, Kamaruzaman completed only five laps, with the lap record coming in the fourth, clocking 01:42.785.
Kamaruzaman’s team-mate Makoto Tamada of Japan in a time of 1:43.593 emerged second. Tamada had to do 12 laps unlike the Malaysian, but he had his best timings in the fourth lap.
“I am very happy with my timings. The conditions were hot compared to Friday. I did five laps just to manage my tyres,” said the 28-year-old Malaysian.
Being the Championship leader, Kamaruzaman said if he wins — with similar weather — both the races on Sunday, he could maintain a healthy lead. He voiced he concerns on the track. “It is bumpy in many areas. And if it rains, with the mud, it could be dangerous.”
Yamaha’s Md. Zamri Baba of Malaysia finished third in a time of 01:43.713. India’s Rajini Krishnan of Moto-Rev qualified in the 19th position. The 32-year-old’s best timings (1:46.214) came in the sixth lap. The other Indian in the fray, R. Deepak, couldn’t take part in the qualifying round, too, due to certain issues in getting the bike ready on time.
The newly-refurbished Madras Motor Race Track came in for strident criticism from some of the top riders.
Azlan Shah said the track was bumpy. “The run-off area is so-so,” he said. Veteran Japanese rider Katsuaki Fujiwara was caustic in his comments. “This track is not good at all. It may be good for local racing, but for an Asian championship, it is not up to the mark,” he said. “It is so bumpy that you get tired. The garage dosen’t have any shutters,” he added. Md. Zamri Baba said all corners are bumpy and that sometimes, it becomes quite difficult to negotiate. “At every corner, you have to say “Oh My God!”
Qualifying: SuperSports (600cc): 1. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS) 01:42.785, 2. Makoto Tamada (Jpn) 1:43.593, 3. Md. Zamri BabaÂ (MAS) 01:43.713; Underbone (115cc): 1. Ahmad Atif Amran (MAS) 01:58.672, 2. Hadi Wijaya (Ina) 1:58.703, 3. Ferlando Herdian (Ina) 01:59.248; Asia Dream Cup: 1. Hiroki Ono (Jpn) 01:56.230, 2. Md. Dwi Satria (Ina) 01:56.600, 3. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Tha) 01:57.068.