Exciting Start To 2017 SAC As Mascardo Wins

The opening round of the 2017 SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE (SAC) saw one of the highest levels of racing in the series history at the weekend, with the riders from nine countries racing in clean, fair, but close and exciting competition with April King Mascardo claiming a double win for the Philippines. 

The Suzuki single-platform category began at Johor Circuit, located in the southern part of Malaysia with the newly-introduced GSX-R150 - a one-of-a-kind motorcycle in the 150cc market, bearing Suzuki’s legendary GSX branding. 

Pole-setter and third-year SAC veteran, #16 Mascardo describing the GSX-R150 commented: “The new GSX-R150 is a great machine to handle. The riding position has changed from the Satria F150 from last season, so it is now easier to lean the bike, which leads to higher cornering speed. The Dunlop tyres have more grip this year making it to go faster for us.” 

It was bright, hot and humid, as expected in Johor during qualifying, but by the time Race 1 started, heavy rain started. Mascardo's team-mate - and also a third-year SAC veteran - #29 Mario Borbon Jr. won that race, making it a day for Team Philippines to celebrate. 

Rain was forecasted for Sunday, but fortunately for the riders, Race 2 started in dry conditions. Mascardo took the holeshot, but a pack of eager-to-win riders followed right behind: #22 Eane Jaye Sobretodo (Philippines) took the lead from Mascardo, but most of the riders were still racing in a pack. On lap 2, Mascardo took the lead, Sobretodo fought to take it back, but #33 K.Y. Ahamed (India) hit Sobretodo, causing them both to crash and also taking-down #98 Muhammad Zulhilmi (Malaysia). Other riders managed to avoid contact, but Mascardo, who was running in front of the incident, was far gone.

While Mascardo took the lead with a big gap, the battle for P2 became intense as the race progressed and positions changed continuously until the finish line. Mascardo took the win, making it a double win for Philippines, while #17 Tetsuya Fujita (Japan) came in second ahead of #78 Punchana Kulrojchalalai.

Comparing this year with the lap-times last year by the Satria F150s, there was almost two-second improvement, proving the potential of the new Suzuki GSX-R150.

Round two of the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE, held as a part of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC), is scheduled to be held on April 13-15th at Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand. 

April King H. Mascardo – 1st: 

"I couldn't use my pole position as an advantage in Race 1, so I concentrated in just looking at the front in Race 2. I made a good start and took the lead at the start, but I wanted to see what the others are capable of doing, so I dropped back a bit in the opening laps. But I was kind-of pushed up-front again, so I just concentrated to maintain the lead. I didn't notice that there was an incident behind me, but I am happy that I finished win the win. It's a new season and we have many talented riders from many countries, and the competition is intense. It's challenging, but it's fun too. I am going to enjoy this season."

Yukio Kagayama- General Manager:

“I would like to thank all of you letting us make the third season happen. The riders experienced both wet and dry races in the season opener, and I believe that it was a valuable experience for them. We were able to see the potential of the new Suzuki GSX-R150 in dry condition, so that was good too. Both races were won by SAC experienced riders from the Philippines. Mario is currently leading the points ranking, but we are blessed with fast newcomers too, so I am looking forward to the new boys reach the veterans level and passing them. We will be preparing well for the next race in Thailand and I ask for your continuous support for SAC."

Shunji Yatsushiro – Rider Coach: 

"Race 2 was the first dry race for the GSX-R150. The start of the race was delayed for quite some time, but I am happy to see that the riders maintained their concentration until the race started, and were able to show us a really good race. The riders were aggressive, but unfortunately some of the contenders crashed, so we saw April (Mascardo) run away with the win. However, the battle for P2 was an exciting one, and the riders showed us their skills in an aggressive battle. I hope that the next round in Thailand will be just as exciting; as well as clean racing." 

Gallery foto Malaysia SAC : Di Sini

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