The Underbone 150cc race category is about to heat up the asphalt of Chang International Circuit once again this weekend in the season opener of the Idemitsu FIM Asia Road Racing Championship. The best of Asian are geared up once again for a wild ride in a bid to supersede the challenges that awaits them.

The Chang circuit may not have been very friendly to Md Nazirul Izzat Bahauddin of UMA Racing YAMAHA Maju Motor Asia Team who seemed to have struggled in the season opener and finale last season. However, the defending champion seemed to have warmed up on other circuit grounds where he swiped five podiums including three celebratory victories throughout the season, instantly placing him on top of the charts. Needless to say, that was one heck of a trick up the sleeve that made his presence in the race category noteworthy. Having said that though, Nazirul definitely has certain limitations which requires more attention, in addition to the underbone race category being highly competitive. Nevertheless, his performances and experiences add on to his advantage and this season, it is all about perfecting his flaws.

Commenting on the season, Nazirul said, “It is not easy to be the defending champion, frankly speaking. Therefore, more than thinking about defending the championship, I am more focused towards the machine and the race. If you ask me, there is not much difference in the competition last season because everyone is of the same level of competence. What is more important would be having the right strategies in mind, working towards it and to making sure that I do better than before. Of course, I would not say that my strategies will work out 100% but I will try my best. We can’t say much about the settings or the changes to the machine as we still have to do testing at Chang circuit this week. Only once we have identified that we will have better clarity. Last season, I did not do very much at Chang circuit so I would like to make sure that this time around, I would have a better chance at the podium there. My goal is to of course to make it to the podium and bag the championship once again however, it is not just dexterity but also luck at the end of the day. So, keeping my fingers crossed!”

2nd runner up, Murobbil Vittoni of LFN H. Putra 969 Indonesia Racing Team was equally striking as he went on to take the podium thrice throughout the season including one win. It was a tough fight for Murobbil considering the troop of highly energised riders grabbing their chances where possible while racing towards one goal however, in the midst of the chaos, he made a sweet deal for himself at the finale. Teaming up with him this season are Fahmi Basam who made it at the thirteenth spot last year and Felix Putra Mulya who together will work towards raising the standards of the team.

Murobbil said, “For this season, by God’s grace, I will try my best to fight from the front troop and hopefully make it to the top spot on the podium. Over last season, I have learnt that I have to maintain my speed and momentum among the front troop as it would provide a better space for me to move ahead at the right time. In my opinion, the Chang circuit is one of the best and most riders are quite well-versed with the layout. My personal favourite would be turn 9 and although rivalry is at its peak there, it helps me make the move I need to get ahead. The final turn is usually the toughest and this is

where I have to work on a strategy to enhance my riding techniques there. Last season, I was quite optimistic with my performances as I have put in a lot of hard work. I work through my limitations and mistakes round by round. The team has been very helpful and has supported me throughout. We work in a positive manner and cooperate in the best way we could. To me, everyone in UB150 is a threat to me as they are all equal in terms of competency however my target for Round 1 is to maximise my capacities and try my best to collect points.”

Gupita Kresna Wardhana of 4S1M EVO YAMAHA Racing Team was close to making it in the top three list last season unfortunately, it was not his moment to celebrate. He raced to the chequered flag third, three times last season, a triple-ripple that landed him fourth in the overall spot. The Indonesian rider has certainly spared himself some justice after the long-exhausting season however, the ride has not ended yet for him. Another season of play is about the begin and as much as Gupita flexes his muscles this time around, the underbone race category is at the end of the day a game of mastery and fortune.

Gupita said, “Last season was a tough one for me even more so the last round where I had to fight the battle on my own without a teammate. This season, I am much more prepared mentally and I plan to improve further by refining my race strategies. I also need to be more focused and adapt quickly to this year’s race machine. I enjoy racing at Chang circuit. The advantage would probably be familiarity of the turns which I quite am at Chang. The disadvantage would probably the same as the other riders, what I know, they may not and vice versa. So, it is hard to tell. Everyone performed very well last season and I am pretty sure that this year will be another competitive one. Our technical team has been continuously researching and developing the machine especially off-season and with the new engine, I hope that it would benefit me in terms of the forms and functions of the machine. Apart from that, I have also been preparing myself physically this season but slightly more on my mental wellbeing. The UB150 race category is exciting yet unpredictable because from the start to the chequered flag, everyone is constantly pushing and refuse to be left behind. However, the last lap and the last corner is always the determiner and that’s what makes is so thrilling. To me, UB150 is the heart of ARRC.”