The race to become the first FIM Asian ASB1000 champion has effectively narrowed to a shoot-out between Broc Parkes (Yamaha Racing Team ASEAN) and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).


The drama in the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship’s premiere class took an unprecedented turn when neither championship leader gained the psychological advantage of a pole position start. Instead, the coveted pole fell into the hands of Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi (Honda Asia Dream Racing with SHOWA).


A solid start by Zaqhwan placed him nominally in control but Zaqhwan lost position to a rapidly charging Apiwat Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) at the end of the first lap. The two riders swapped places at the front until Zaqhwan was able to gain full control on Lap 5.


On the same lap, the title chase was turned on its head when Broc Parkes crashed out at the infamous Buriram last corner. The Australian rider rejoined the race in last place, a minute down from the rest of the group.


By Lap 7, Azlan had muscled his way past Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) and tucked into P3 behind Apiwat.


While Broc gamely tried to make up for lost ground, Zaqhwan was riding smooth and steady at the front of the group. The riders looked to be locked in position with Zaqhwan leading Apiwat and Azlan until the last lap when Apiwat crashed out of P2.


Zaqhwan went on to win the race with 20’56.778s. Azlan in second and Thitipong third made it a Honda-BMW-Kawasaki podium in Race 1.


Further down the group, Broc kept his title hopes alive when he picked up four points from P12.


With the gap between Broc and Azlan now narrowed to only three points, the stage is set for a showdown in the final race on Sunday.