Azlan Shah takes pole at Asian Road Racing

Chennai, July 13 (IANS) Malaysian Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, astride a Honda, set a lap record of one minute, 42.909 seconds to grab the pole position in the premium SuperSport 600cc class in the third round of the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship here on Saturday.

After two days of overnight rains, the skies cleared in time for the qualifying sessions in when track surface temperatures soared to 63 degrees Celcius at the 3.717 Kms Madras Motor Race Track.

Kamaruzaman quickly set the standard while taking the pole position with a lap record of 01:42.909 while team-mate Makoto Tamada powered his own Honda to second on the grid with 01:43.593 ahead of Mohd Zamri Baba who clocked 01:43.713.

"Pole position is perhaps the most important winning-factor in this round. The circuit is tight and there are very few overtaking opportunities, especially in the 600cc class. After clocking in fastest during the morning session, I was even more determined to take the pole position. The new lap record was a bonus," said Azlan, the 29-year old championship leader.

In the Underbone 115cc class, Rafid Topan's lap record set Friday was bettered during Saturday's practice session as Harlan Fadhillah put in a scorching lap of 01:59.474 that beat the record by 0.346 seconds.

However, Ahmad Afif Amran quickly bested that time during the opening minutes of the qualifying session with 01:58.672 to take the pole position before the session was red flagged in the 18th minute following a crash between Mohd Hafieenaz Mohd Ali and Mohd Adib Rosley.

Both riders were reported to be fine. Hafieenaz rode back to the paddock on his own power but Adib fared a little worse, suffering from a sprained ankle.

Afif will be joined on the front row by defending champion Hadi Wijaya who was second fastest with 01:58.703 and Ferlando Herdian third with 01:59.248.

In the Asia Dream Cup qualifying session, leaderboard topper Japanese Hiroki Ono chalked up the fastest time of 01:56.230 for pole ahead of Indonesian rider Mohd Dwi Satria (01:56.600), who arrived here only this morning after a delayed flight, causing him to miss the practice runs.

Thailand's Nakarin Atiratphuvapat, who clocked third fastest with 01:57.068 while two Malaysian, Mohd Fitri Ashraf Razali and Khairul Idham Pawi will take up the second row with times of 01:57.643 and 01:57.882, respectively alongside the sixth fastest rider Jakkrit Swangswat, who posted 01:57.984.

Indian riders Sumit Lucas Toppo and Arunagiri Prabhu, who received wild cards for the Dream Cup race, qualified 11th and 14th respectively.

The results (qualifying session - top 3):

SuperSports 600cc: 1. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (MAS), 01:42.785s (new lap record); 2. Makoto Tamada (JPN), 01:43.593s; 3. Md Zamri Baba (MAS), 01:43.713s..

Asia Dream Cup: 1. Hiroki Ono (JPN), 01:56.230s; 2. Md Dwi Satria (INA), 01:56.600s; 3. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (THA), 01:57.068s.

Underbone 115cc: 1. Ahmad Afif Amran (MAS), 01:58.672s (new lap record); 2. Hadi Wijaya (INA), 01:58.703s; 3. Ferlando Herdian (INA), 01:59.248s.

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