After six podium finishes in the first five legs of the 2019 season, Irfan Ardiansyah has finally claimed his first AP250 win of the season.

The Astra Honda Racing Team rider started Race 1 from second row, behind pole sitter Muklada Sarapuech, and front row qualifiers Lucky Hendriansya and Rafid Topan Sucipto. A bad start put him ninth in the group at the opening lap but Irfan quickly recovered and had gone up to fifth in the second lap. He continued to power his way up the field and was leading the group by Lap 3.

However, Irfan found it impossible to break away and faced significant challenge from his own team mates Lucky Hendriansya, Awhin Sanjaya as well as Muklada Sarapuech. Irfan dropped to fourth on Lap 5 but caught up with Muklada again in the penultimate lap.

The long straights at the Sepang International Circuit worked to Irfan’s favour. He was able to slipstream Muklada on the final straight before making a final dash to victory with a time of 19’45.110s.

0.241 seconds behind, Muklada came home in second with 19’45.351s. Rafid Topan Sucipto started the race from third and finished in the same position with 19’45.371s.

Irfan became the new AP250 championship leader with 165 points when Andy Muhammad Fadly finished fifth. But this win would prove to be a double edged sword. Irfan is now leading his fifth placed team mate Lucky Hendriansya by 58 points. This means that the second equalizer, a further 500rpm cut, will be imposed on Irfan’s bike. In effect, Irfan became the first AP250 rider to pick up a second equalizer.

Andy Muhammad Fadly, who has shown himself to be a supreme mathematician, again narrowly escaped the second equalizer. At 156 points, Fadly leads Lucky by 49 points. At this late stage of the game, Fadly would do better to bite the bullet in Race 2 and win to gain maximum points to take the lead into the final round in Thailand.

Further down the grid, Vietnamese rider Cao Viet Nam finished within the top 10 for the second time this season.

Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing wildcards Muhammad Syarifuddin Azman and Mohd Idlan Haqimi Raduan ended their AP250 debut in 12thand 21st places respectively.