Asia Road Racing Championship

National motorcycle racer, better known as Damok (Syarifuddin Azman) will participate in the Asian Road Racing Championship (ARRC) race this season.

His new team, Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda (BSH) Racing Team released the statement. This new contract means that Damok will be able to compete in a major racing championship after he no longer competes in the Moto3 Championship in MotoGP.

He along with his teammate Md. Irfan Haykal will compete in the AP 250cc class.

Apart from Damok, Md. Zaqhwan Zaidi will continue his career in the ASB1000 premier class on the new Honda CBR1000RR-R 2024 machine. Md. Helmi Azman and Azroy Hakeem Anuar will ride the Honda CBR600RR in the SS600cc.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of BSH Mitsuharu Funase said his side set high targets to hunt for various successes, as well as make 2024 the year of success for the team.

“We are hoping to emerge as the overall champion of the SS600 class. Our riders have experience and high fighting spirit while Syarifuddin in the AP250 class promises consistent action,” he said.

The opening round of the ARRC (Asia Road Racing Championship) takes place on March 15-17 at Chang International Circuit, Thailand.

Pelumba negara yang lebih dikenali sebagai Damok (Syarifuddin Azman) akan menyertai perlumbaan Kejuaraan Motosikal Asia (ARRC) musim ini.

Pasukan baharunya, Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda (BSH) Racing Team mengeluarkan kenyataan tersebut. Kontrak yang baharu ini bermaksud Damok dapat beraksi dalam kejuaraan perlumbaan yang agak besar setelah beliau tidak lagi beraksi dalam Kejuaraan Moto3 di MotoGP.

Beliau bersama rakan sepasukannya Md Irfan Haykal akan beraksi dalam kelas AP 250cc.

Selain daripada Damok, Md. Zaqhwan Zaidi akan menyambung kariernya di dalam kelas perdana ASB1000 bersama jentera baharu Honda CBR1000RR-R 2024. Md. Helmi Azman dan Azroy Hakeem Anuar pula akan menunggang jentera Honda CBR600RR di dalam SS600cc.

Pengarah Urusan dan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif BSH Mitsuharu Funase berkata pihaknya meletakkan sasaran tinggi bagi memburu pelbagai kejayaan, serta menjadikan 2024 sebagai tahun kejayaan pasukan itu.

“Kami sarkan untuk muncul juara keseluruhan kelas SS600. Pelumba kami mempunyai pengalaman dan semangat juang tinggi manakala Syarifuddin dalam kelas AP250 menjanjikan aksi konsisten,” katanya.

Pusingan pembukaan ARRC (Asia Road Racing Championship) itu berlangsung pada 15-17 Mac ini di Litar Antarabangsa Chang, Thailand.

Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah is determined to shine at the first round of the Asian Road Racing Championship (ARRC) in Buriram, Thailand in the middle of this month.

The 29-year-old rider, who is also known by the nickname El Pescao, will ride the Ducati Panigale V4 R for the Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) Racing Team.

He has been practicing with the bike at the Sepang International Circuit recently in preparation for the race at the Chang International Circuit, Thailand.

“Honestly I have never ridden a V4 R throughout my career in racing but the electronic system found on the motorcycle and what the chief mechanic, Loris Caroli told me, the advantage of the motorcycle lies in the braking system.

“I can really feel the difference, especially the brake system which is more powerful compared to other motorcycles I’ve ridden in addition to the good suspension system when taking turns and stability from the acceleration aspect, especially on the straights.

“I can say that this V4R motorcycle is ‘friendly’ to the rider and I adapted quickly, but I need more training to learn more about the electronic system for faster riding,” said Hafizh.

He also described the biggest competitor is Markus Reiterberger who is the defending champion of the ASB1000 class in the championship. Hafizh also said that he does not underestimate the abilities of fellow Malaysian riders, Zaqhwan Zaidi and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman.

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For this writer, the Malaysian Petronas Cub Prix has been the scene of awe and wonder for as long as can be remembered.

Founded in 1994, the series set about with the intention of creating a race series that was “accessible to people from all walks of life”.

According to the wikipedia page of the series, Petronas Cub Prix remains the “only mobile motorsports event that brings the excitement of motorcycle racing to its fans throughout the country”.

The Malaysian Petronas Cub Prix Championship is typically organised on a tight road racing format rather than on a traditional racing circuit.

It is this format that has made the series so nail biting and has also brought it closer to the fans as the series does not rely on tracks, but is able to set up a race track just about anywhere.

The company behind the iconic race series is Two Wheel Motor Racing Sdn Bhd, while the man steering the ship is Ron Hogg (below).

The job landed on Ron’s laps because it was actually his father that started it all.

“I kinda got sucked into it. I used to help my dad out every time I came back for holidays, I was actually studying law at that time, but as fate would have it, I ended up liking what I used to do with my dad, and next thing you know, it has been 30 years already,” said Ron in a recent interview.

The series has been largely successful and has brought Malaysians some household names such as M.Meganathan, Shahrol Yuzi, Wazi Hamid as well as Zulfahmi Khairuddin and more recently Hafizh Syahrin.

But it hasn’t always been that, motorsport is not easy and life can be difficult for a race organiser.

We have had a couple of difficult times in our 30 years, We had the Asian Financial Crisis of the 90s, We were also badly affected when the government banned tobacco advertising. And the lockdowns from the Corona Virus was really bad for us also because we could not organise any mass gatherings and our race series always attracts a crowd. So that effectively stopped all the funding we were receiving, but not the expenses we were facing,” explains Ron.

The challenges faced by Ron were not just limited to the local scene because Two Wheel Motor Racing is also the organiser of the Malaysian Superbike Championship as well as the Asia Road Racing Championship that travels around countries in South East Asia.

“We could not travel because of the restrictions and lock downs, but I am happy to say that in 2020 and 2021, we were the first motorsport series to be given the green light to restart with some help with KBS and KKM.”

Ron is quick to point out that it would have been easy to simply call it quits and pull the plug on the entire thing when everything got really tough during the pandemic. But it would have created a massive chain reaction because the series has given employment to dozens if not hundreds of people.

“Teams rely on us to organise the series, and in the teams you have a lot of people that rely on a salary from the team such as the mechanics, the riders, the people involved in the management of the team. Many people rely on us, and I had to ensure that we kept going because they need us to keep going.”

But besides successfully steering the company out of the woods, Ron says that he particularly loves spending time in the pits, amidst the smell of oil and petrol and under the tropical sun.

“There’s just something about that which I can’t explain. I love being in the pits, I love being among the teams, of course I can’t do much of that these days as I am involved in the commercial side of the business, but that is where my heart lays and what I truly love about my job.”

“But on the flip side, what I don’t like about my job is the bureaucracy involved, especially how motorsport has not progressed enough in the country. For 25 years we have been fighting for more circuits. We don’t need more circuits like Sepang, but smaller ones like Pasir Gudang. It is a pity that Shah Alam is gone. But we need those types of circuit.”

“If you compare with other sports like badminton and football for example, they have all the facilities. In every Malaysian state there are badminton courts and a football stadium. But the reality is, we are not producing the ideal results despite all those facilities. I am not going to get into what’s wrong with the other sports, but if motorsport was given the same opportunity with more circuits, not in all the states but just a few more, I am sure we can produce more results.”

“You just have to look at Malaysian drivers like Alex Yoong and Fariqe Hairuman. They both used to follow their dads to the local circuit. Alex followed his dad to Batu Tina in Shah Alam while Fariqe followed his dad in Johor. Look at what that little opportunity has produced. Both are great world-class drivers, among the best Malaysia has ever produced.”

“We have seen some success in motorsport in Malaysia. And we have a lot of talent that comes from everywhere and anywhere. Be it four or two wheels, we have a lot of talent in Malaysia. We just need to give motorsport an opportunity.”

Ron is undoubtedly right about the need for more circuits around the country, perhaps even drag strips for that matter. But for a man who has been on the helm of arguably one of the most successful motorsport company in the country, I ask him what is his proudest achievement after all these years. And perhaps unsurprisingly, he simply mentioned that he is proud to still be around 30 years after the series first started.

“Every sport needs a strong fundamental base. You just have to take a look at the now defunct A1GP. It sounded good, it started off with a bang, but it wrapped up two years later.”

“After the success of Petronas Cub Prix, we looked around and realised that there was not much going on on the regional level, so we started the Asia Road Racing Championship. I won’t deny that we got lucky too. At that time we had tobacco sponsorship. We had a very good relationship with Philip Morris, and they loved what we were doing and they supported us and our growth.”

“We were always levelling up also. From Petronas Cub Prix to ARRC. But when tobacco sponsorship stopped, we were left out by ourselves. We had to absorb everything ourselves, somehow we managed because we already had strong foundations. Today, I am proud to say that every professional motorcycle racer in Malaysia can trace his roots to Petronas Cub Prix. I am proud of that.”

“But now we have to level up again. We now have MSBK (now MSC) which was managed by Sepang Circuit initially, and now us. At first, it was viewed as a playful series where riders do it for fun. But we turned it into a professional series where the best riders in the country can compete in. If you want to prove yourself on the international platform, doing it in MSC is where you should start first.”

“It is not cheap though, the minimum investment for a team to race in a year will be about RM500,000, and that is just the initial investment and does not involve any crashes or repairs. I want the Petronas Cub Prix team to graduate to MSC now because they have done a fantastic job, but I know it won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap for them.”

As previously mentioned, Malaysia does not lack riding talent. For a small country that arguably lacks motorsport support from the establishment, Malaysia has produced some impressive talent. But Ron argues that some of them retire too early and don’t contribute back to the industry with their experiences.

“We obviously have had some riders that have made it to the CEV series, Moto2 and even Moto3. Some have done well too, while others perhaps have not. But making it that far is not easy and requires talent by itself, together with discipline and a good attitude. I feel that some riders who have made it that far should come back and contribute to help others make their way up there as well. And that is what helps all our local series become relevant, because it becomes the platform for young riders to launch their careers with the guidance of those who have made it up there.”

But racing is not cheap and to make it big in motorsport, sponsorship is important. So how does a rider with talent but with no money make it in motorsport?

Ron admits that money is essential in motorsport, but he also points that talent is equally or perhaps more important than money, as well as discipline and a good attitude.

“Talent gets you noticed, and from there on, if you have good discipline and a good attitude with the right people to support you, they will be able to help you secure the funds to go racing. Everyone wants to be the new Marquez or Rossi, but the trinity of talent, discipline and attitude is important. Manufacturers and sponsors will always support good riders, especially now where there has been a lot of exposure for two-wheel racing. So good riders can get the support quite easily, but riders need a good manager that can help them secure the funding they need to get far.”

Having steered the company and the race championships through some of the most turbulent times for any business in the world, Ron perhaps faces one of the biggest challenge now with the rise of electric motorcycles and with electric race bikes popping up all over the world.

“We are already looking into electric race bikes, but sustainability is key. We lack infrastructure currently but I foresee that we will eventually have an electric race bike series. Of course this poses its own set of risks because electric bikes have different risk factors when compared to regular race bikes, but this is something that will definitely happen. We will see when to start on that.”

Finally, no interview with any two-wheel icon of Malaysia is complete with asking about the country’s ‘rempit’ culture.

“It is unfortunately a culture, and changing a culture requires a long long time. If I were in charge, I would say forget about the current generation, and focus instead on those that are around five years old instead.”

“Rempit culture came from the BMX culture, it is a natural progression for those that started with a BMX to move to motorcycles, and likewise, the wheelie culture moved from the BMX to motorcycles.”

“Unfortunately, rempit’s have got a very bad name. But fact of the matter is, only 2% of motorcyclists are what you call rempit’s.”

Motorcycle racing is undoubtedly one of the things that Malaysia has been good at, and in the hands of passionate and knowledgeable individuals such as Ron who have an obviously good track record, perhaps it is safe to say that Malaysians can only expect great things to come from the two-wheel racing industry.

Ron Hogg would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners for their continued support while he and his team do their best to continue developing the sport to greater heights.

COVID-19 has struck another major racing event, folks. The 2020 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) season has been cancelled. Following concerns related to COVID-19 together with strict travel restrictions and lengthy quarantine procedures, series promoter Two Wheels Motor Racing (TWMR) has decided to cancel the remainder of the 2020 season. (more…)

Following Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman’s maiden championship win in the 2019 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) in the ASB1000 category, the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team is proud to announce that their results will be greatly rewarded as BMW Motorrad will be lending some factory support for the Malaysian squad in the upcoming 2020 season. (more…)

The 2019 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) just wrapped up its inaugural season with the new ASB1000 superbike category and our very own Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was crowned the first-ever ARRC Superbike Champion in Buriram, Thailand yesterday! (more…)

  • Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing rolled out their AP250 team for the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) today.

  • The team is slated to join the series full time next year.

  • The early entry will provide them with experience and data.

Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing rolled out their AP250 team for the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) today.

The team is slated to join the Asia Production 250 (AP250) category fully next year. Therefore, the launch today is to “test the waters” in the series with a factory backed team and wildcard riders. The sixth round of the 2019 ARRC season is currently being held at the Sepang International Circuit.

Without a doubt, the experience and data gained this year will be priceless in their participation in 2020.

“The Asia Production 250cc class was added to the Asia Road Racing Championship roster in 2015. To date, the class had been dominated by Thai and Indonesian riders. However, we know that, given the calibre of Malaysian riders, they should be challenging for the title in every single season. After all, the Malaysian riders are dominant in every other category of the ARRC (ASB1000, SuperSports 600cc, and Underbone 150cc), except the 250cc class. By establishing our own factory outfit in the class, we take on the mission of changing the balance of power in this popular category,” said Mr. Keiichi Yasuda, MD and CEO of Boon Siew Honda Sdn. Bhd.

To achieve this, Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing will field two wildcard riders. 18-year-old Muhammad Syarifuddin Azman and 15-year-old Muhammad Idlan Haqimi Raduan will ride the CBR250RR.

Muhammad Syarifuddin was the Yamaha PETRONAS Super Series champion in 2016, and also captured the 2018 Wira category title with Idemitsu Kozi Yam Honda Racing.

Muhammad Syarifuddin (left) and Muhammad Idlan (right)

Meanwhile, Muhammad Idlan was the 2018 Honda One Make Challenge champion.

Idemitsu and Boon Siew Honda also hopes that these riders will be developed into world-class riders of the future.


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