In the all-new Underbone 150cc category, it was an all-Malaysian affair at the top end of the pre-season timesheets. Team RCB Motobatt Yamaha YY Pang duo Mohd Azhar Abdul Jalil and Tengku Amirul Haffiruddin led the proceedings with times of 01’48.907s and 01’49.127s respectively. Rookie rider Mohd Helmi Azman, representing incoming team TKKR Onexox Racing, was third fastest with 01’49.251s.

While the Underbone category of the Asia Road Racing Championship had usually been an Indonesian-Malaysian affair, the battle this season had been given a new layer of depth as the rivalry between the Yamaha and Honda camps hot up. The Yamaha Y15ZR and the Honda RS150R represent two of the most popular motorcycle makes in the Asian market at the moment and the showdown between the two models have generated tremendous interest and excitement among fans in the continent.

Yamaha looks to have the early advantage. As the pre-season test concludes at the Johor Circuit, the best performing Honda rider was Mohd Muzakkir Mohamed. The Hi-Rev Rapido SCK Honda Racing rider posted 01’49.413s.

Surprisingly, the Indonesian riders were very far off the mark on the pre-season timesheets. The fastest Indonesian rider was Yamaha Yamalube KYT TJM Racetech’s Anggi Setiawan, 11th fastest with 01’50.392s. 2016 UB130 champion Wahyu Aji Trilaksana was 12th fastest with 01’50.686s. The Indonesian national championships have been running the 150cc class for two years while the Malaysian national series, the Malaysian Cub Prix Championship, had just introduced the 150cc category this season. Given the depth of their experience, an all-Indonesian comeback can be expected in Round 1 at the same host venue on April 1 and 2, 2017.