Torrential rain. Buckets of it. Flash floods on track. Those would usually mean a death knell to thrilling racing as riders cut risks. Racing bogs down to a mere procession, but not if it is the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship races.

richard-dibben-and-gabit-on-a-close-fight-copyHeld at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the suburbs of Malang City, Indonesia’s first international supermoto event ended on an exhilarating note. As per the usual weather report over the weekend, the day started under intense sunlight and high humidity.

Thousands of spectators had thronged to the trackside by early morning, lining every gap in the barricades. There was a particularly high concentration of fans surrounding the offroad section, prompting Race Direction to open it for racing, starting with the support races, despite the dark volcanic being still soppy and certain sections were waterlogged. The fans had no doubt wanted to witness some high-flying action.

The support class racers went out and were promptly bogged down, turning the races into an enduro.

A couple of FIM Asia Supermoto riders went out to test the dirt and found that it was impractical to race there. If the lighter KLX150s had found the going tough, what more the heavier 450cc supermotos. The section consequently remained unused. Part of the regulation stated that in an event of rain and if the off-road section is deemed muddy, the off-road section shall be closed as the mud will get onto the tarmac.

Rain started to fall just as Race 1 got under. The front row riders charged into the Turn One neck-to-neck. As they excited the corner, there was a blur of a bike going sideways followed by a 3-bike pile-up.

img_0639-copy“Andy (McLiesh) came up on the inside and I was squeezed into Andre (Sondakh). We tangled and all three of us hit the ground,” said Mohd. Al-Amirul (better known as Gaban).

Emerging from the fracas was Asian championship leader, Muhd. Habibullah (better known as Gabit), followed by Lewis Cornish and Richard Dibben. Gabit started pushing immediately and opened up a handy lead, leaving his other two rivals to battle it out.

Cornish and Dibben passed and re-passed each other numerous times, but it was the latter who prevailed.

Gabit had settled into his rhythm by this point, circulating steadily. Cleared of Cornish, Dibben started to put the hammer down, gradually closing the gap to Gabit, but the plucky Malaysian kept the gap at 1-second.

The high pace of the leaders brought them into contact with backmarkers just five laps later. Engrossed in their own battle for track position, Gabit couldn’t find a safe passage through. Dibben saw his chance and bore down on his hapless prey.

Dibben outbraked Gabit into the last turn. Gabit held on and both riders exited side-by-side, almost on top of one another. A huge roar went up around the track. Both riders gunned their throttles at the exact time, but Gabit’s rear squirmed and slid sideways, costing him the all-important drive onto the long front straight.

riders-surfs-through-the-waterlog-copyStill, Gabit kept Dibben in check like a prey turned hunter. The rain now picked up and turned the front straight into a yellow-coloured river.

“We had only dry weather tyres to play with. The closest to rain tyres were intermediates. I could keep up when entering the corners and but kept losing drive coming out,” said Gabit.

Gabit came closest to retaking the lead when the pair again ran into a group of three backmarkers. Oblivious to the faster riders, the leading rider of the group closed the door going into a righthander. Dibben almost slammed into the rider, while Gabit split the two other riders and managed to show his front wheel next to Dibben.

From then on Gabit kept the pressure up but the 20-minutes + 2 laps race was up. Dibben pipped Gabit to the line, and Gaban finished in a lonely 3rd.

The intense action was not only limited to the front runners. Competition was so fierce a rider snagged one of the straw bags lining the track, strewing its contents. Another rider rode up a tyre barrier but his reflexes helped him to bunny hop off it. Spectators were similarly wowed by watching the bikes slip, slide, squirm throughout the race.

podium-open-international-class-1-richard-dibbenAlthough the rain subsided slightly by Race 2, it was still heavy by any measure. The charge down into Turn One was a heart-stopping, all-or-nothing affair, but it was Gaban who held his nerve and claimed the holeshot.

In his typical style, Gaban gave it everything, pulling away from Gabit rapidly, followed by the usual suspects Cornish and Dibben. Just at the moment when it looked like he was going to dominate flag-to-flag, his rear tyre almost went under him, but it regained traction and almost highsided. “It’s then that I decided to keep a steady pace and not throw it down the road. There’s always another day to fight for the championship,” he revealed.

Dibben and Cornish did not require an invitation to hit the front, and resumed their race-long close-quarters battle to the end. Dibben again edged another racer at the line to claim his second victory.

Gabit started to slow as his tyre woe increased. He eventually finished fourth.

podium-asian-class-1-gabanThe race was witnessed by officials from His Excellency, the Regend of Malang’s office; Tony Nagamaiah, General Manager of Malaysia Major Events, Tourism Malaysia; and some 30,000 spectators.

For more information about this exciting new series, visit www.supermotoasia.com.

Open International Class Race Results:

Standing

Bike No.

Name

Country

Points

Total Points

Race 1

Race 2

1

84

Richard Dibben

New Zealand

25

25

50

2

8

Lewis Cornish

France

18

22

40

3

19

Mohd Al Amirul

Malaysia

20

20

40

4

27

Muhd Habibullah

Malaysia

22

18

40

5

32

Khairi Zakaria

Malaysia

16

15

31

6

1

Andy McLiesh

Australia

14

16

30

7

7

Pedro Wuner

Indonesia

12

14

26

8

226

Diva Ismayana

Indonesia

12

14

26

9

2

Eric Chia

Singapore

11

13

24

10

28

Natthapat Suksanwatthana

Thailand

10

12

22

11

101

Takashi Sasaki

Japan

13

6

19

12

125

Fahmi Ahmad Fauzi

Indonesia

8

10

18

13

101A

Andre Sondakh

Indonesia

9

7

16

14

22

Arjun Wicaksana

Indonesia

7

8

15

15

77

Hasroy Osman

Singapore

0

9

9

16

18

Tsang Wai Kei

Hong Kong

4

3

7

17

48

Steve Alkyer

USA

0

5

5

18

26

Park Jongho

Korea

0

5

5

19

417

Tommy Salim

Indonesia

5

0

5

20

720

Lin Chin Pei

Taiwan

0

4

4

 Asian Class Race Results:

Standing

Bike No.

Name

Country

Points

Overall Points

Race 1

Race 2

1

19

Mohd Al Amirul

Malaysia

22

25

47

2

27

Muhd Habibullah

Malaysia

25

22

47

3

32

Khairi Zakaria

Malaysia

20

20

40

4

7

Pedro Wuner

Indonesia

15

18

33

5

226

Diva Ismayana

Indonesia

18

1

32

6

2

Eric Chia

Singapore

14

16

30

7

26

Natthapat Suksanwatthana

Thailand

13

15

28

8

101

Takashi Sasaki

Japan

16

9

25

9

125

Fahmi Ahmad Fauzi

Indonesia

10

13

23

10

77

Hasroy Osman

Singapore

12

10

22

11

22

Arjun Wicaksana

Indonesia

9

11

20

12

720

Lin Chin Pei

Taiwan

7

7

14

13

26

Park Jongho

Korea

5

8

13

14

18

Tsang Wai Kei

Hong Kong

6

6

12

15

417

Tommy Salim

Indonesia

8

0

8

FIM Asia Supermoto Championship 2016 Overall Standing Points:

Standing

Name

Country

Points

Overall Points

Australia

Indonesia

Race 1

Race 2

Race 1

Race 2

1

Muhd Habibullah

Malaysia

25

25

25

22

97

2

Mohd Al Amirul Ashshahid

Malaysia

18

22

22

25

87

3

Khairi Zakaria

Malaysia

22

20

20

20

82

4

Takashi Sasaki

Japan

14

18

16

9

57

5

Pedro Wuner

Indonesia

10

12

15

18

55

6

Eric Chia

Singapore

12

13

14

16

55

7

Fahmi Ahmad Fauzi

Indonesia

13

14

10

13

50

8

Hasroy Osman

Singapore

15

15

11

12

53

9

Shinji Tomita

Japan

20

16

DNA

DNA

36

10

Diva Ismayana

Indonesia

DNA

DNA

18

14

32

11

Lin Chin-Pei

Taiwan

11

11

7

7

36

12

Natthapat Suksanwatthana

Thailand

DNA

DNA

13

15

28

13

Andre Sondakh

Indonesia

DNA

DNA

12

10

22

14

Arjun Wicaksana

Indonesia

DNA

DNA

9

11

20

15

Makoto Arai

Japan

16

0

DNA

DNA

16

16

Tsang Wai Kei

Hong Kong

DNA

DNA

6

6

12

17

Tommy Salim

Indonesia

DNA

DNA

8

0

8

18

Park Jongho

Korea

DNA

DNA

5

8

13

Ben Potter

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