Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014: An Awesome Year In The Making ( 2014 Petronas FIM Asia Road Racing Championship )

The 2014 season of the PETRONAS FIM Asia Road Racing Championship is shaping up to be one of the best seasons to date. The 19th season of the Asian series will once again run a 6-round championship, featuring 53 of the best riders from 10 participating Asian countries.

The season begins with the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia from April 18 to 20, 2014. The second round will be held at the Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia from June 13 to 15. Japan will then host two consecutive legs, with rounds three and four to be held at the Autopolis International Race Course from August 15 to 17 and followed by the Suzuka Circuit from September 5 to 7. A new host venue makes its appearance in 2014 - the Buriram International Circuit will mark Thailand's return to the championship calendar after an absence of more than a decade. Buriram will be the stage for Round 5 from November 7 to 9. The season will end under the desert skies at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar from December 11 to 13, 2014.

Round 1
Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
18 – 20 Apr
Round 2
Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia
13 – 15 Jun
Round 3
Autopolis International Race Course, Japan
15 – 17 Aug
Round 4
Suzuka Circuit, Japan
5 – 7 Sept
Round 5
Buriram International Circuit, Thailand
7 – 9 Nov
Round 6
Losail International Circuit, Qatar
11 – 13 Dec

At the time of writing a total of 22 riders have already been confirmed for the SuperSports 600cc premiere class. Despite rumours of his retirement, former MotoGP and WSBK rider Makoto Tamada will be back for his second season in the Asian championship. With the departure of Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman to the MotoGP, for the second year in a row, the SuperSports 600cc class will be without its title defender. Kawasaki's Katsuaki Fujiwara will be racing with an eye on the title, having won it in 2011 and lost it in 2012 and 2013 to rivals Ryuichi Kiyonari and Azlan Shah.

Another WSBK rider adds his presence to the SuperSports 600cc class - Australian Mark Aitchison will be taking to the track in Akeno Speed Racing's trademark yellow and blue livery. Malaysia's top SuperSports 600cc rider Mohd Zamri Baba will be racing astride a Honda this season, after a career spent in the Yamaha marquee. Ahmad Fuad Baharudin also trades bikes, returning to the PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha camp after spending a number of years in Kawasaki. Fuad will be teaming up with Japanese rider Yuki Ito.

Look out for young upcoming riders of the class, especially Indonesia's HA Yudhistira who grew wings in the final leg of the 2013 season, much to the amazement of the entire paddock. Another young gun to watch out for is Zaqhwan Zaidi who is rapidly coming into his own in the SuperSports 600cc class. Other young debutants of the class include Malaysia's Ahmad Afif Amran and Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali. Neither riders are strangers to the championship. Afif previously raced in the Underbone class whilst Fitri had won several Asia Dream Cup races.

In the Underbone 130cc class, Hadi Wijaya is back in the hunt for his fourth consecutive title. Hadi will be teaming up with countryman Rio Dewara in team Faito Factory Racing whilst Gupita Kresna Wardhana stays on at team Manual Tech. The Underbone class will have its first Japanese team to date with the entry from Team RSC that will be fielding the dynamic and hugely popular Kazuki Masaki.

Meanwhile, out of the 18 riders in the Asia Dream Cup, only six are repeat riders. They are Japan's Reitoku Kurogi, Malaysia's Khairul Idham Pawi, Chinese-Taipei's Chung An-Yu, and India's Sarath Kumar as well as Arunagiri Prabhu. The remaining twelve are first time ADC participants hoping to impress with their skill and talent.

Fans of Asian motorcycle racing can now catch the action live on their TV screens with a newly-inked broadcast deal between the championship and Fox Sports. Details are as follows:

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