Luck was not on the side of the UMA Racing Yamaha Philippines’ Masato Fernando and McKinley Kyle Paz in the Asian Road Racing Championship at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
Winning the opening leg in Malaysia proved to be a detriment to the Yamaha riders, who entered the Thai circuit as marked men parrying the fury of their rivals while trying to survive a flurry of trials.
Before the start of the Race, Fernando felt he had a technical issue with his motorcycle. They tried to address the issue on the grid but there was not enough time. The competition was heated from the start which caused an unfortunate crash the resulted in a red flag.
As the fallen riders gathered their bearings it was an opportunity for team Philippines to adjust their motorcycles. Due to the crash, the laps were now reduced to 6, a virtual sprint to the finish line.
On the other hand, McKinley started at the race at the 5th spot and Masato at the back of the pack anew, with the two reaching the front by the last two laps.
For a moment, the championship leader Kyle Paz led the way with Masato closing in on the rest of the leaders. But in the final corner, Masato was part of a multi-rider crash that took away any chance at the podium.
McKinley, on the other hand, couldn’t maintain the lead as he was smothered by his foreign counterparts.
It was practically the same story for the team, supported by Yamaha Motor Philippines Inc., UMA Racing, Racing Boy, Aracer, Proliner, Youall, Galfer, Nasty Port Flow, Koso, NGK, RK, and Kushitani, prior to Sunday’s final race.
Fernando had it rough in qualifying and started the race at the 20th spot. That wouldn’t be enough to slow down “The Chairman” as he pushed himself all the way to the 4th spot. But when he was preparing to crack into that top three spot an unfortunate clip with a fellow rider knock him out of the lead pack and bowed out back at 20th.
Kyle Paz started behind an all-Malaysian troupe that made his run grueling from start to finish. After falling as far behind into double-digit place, he showed everyone why he ruled the Malaysian leg and finished Race 1 with a respectable 6th-place rank.
The Thai leg proved to be a tough round for the two, who, however, vowed to bounce back in the final leg in Japan, with Paz attempting to defend his championship spot and Fernando seeking to improve from 5th place.