The Asia Road Racing Championship came back to India from 2011 to hold their third round of the series. The Madras Motor Track (length 3.717km) is located in the outskirts of Chennai, on the eastern coast of India.
For Makoto Tamada, this would be his first race at this circuit, as well as his first visit to India. Arrival at the track only let Tamada find out that the racetrack was not in the best condition to race, with temperature rising close to 40 degrees Celsius, and the surface temperature rising to 65 degrees Celsius.
Tamada made a slow start in Practice 1, finishing 9th in the session, with a lap time of 1’46.931. His first comment that he made immediately after the session was, “It feels like Assen, before the renovation of the course”. During his MotoGP years, the old Assen course was one of the tracks he did not like. The sandy surface of the track, due to the heavy thunderstorm on Tuesday and Wednesday of the race week, did not help him make a satisfactory run.
However, it did not take long for Tamada to take a grip of the racetrack. He would slice his time by almost 2 seconds in Practice 2, and another 0.7 seconds in Practice 3, and ending both sessions in 5th place.
Tamada decides to make a quick lap in the beginning laps of the qualifying session, taking into consideration of the tire wear in the extreme heat, and the physical wear. He would eventually make his best lap in Lap 4 of the qualifying session with a lap time of 1’43.593. This lap time placed Tamada on the 2nd grid, his first front row start of the season.
Considering the high temperature on race day, Tamada predicted that the key to victory would be how the rider manages his physical and tire conditions during the race. After making a not-so-super start at Race 1, Tamada will drop to 3rd in the opening lap of the race. However, it did not take long for him to recover. He overtakes 2 riders in lap 3, and takes the lead for the first time this season. His teammate and current point leader Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and the two Yamaha factory riders, MD Zamri Baba and Yuki Ito, were right behind them, and making seem like the race was going to be a Yamaha-Honda matchup. However, the Yamaha’s will fall down eventually.
Azlan retakes the lead from Tamada in lap 5, and from there it would be a battle between teammates until the end of the race. Tamada retakes the lead in lap 9, but Azlan takes it back in lap 12. Tamada once again takes the lead in the final lap, and wins the race. This was Tamada’s first win since 2004 when he won the MotoGP Japan GP at Motegi.
Tamada makes a much better start in Race 2, and takes the whole shot. Azlan and Zamri were the only two following right behind Tamada, and once again making the race a Yamaha-Honda match up. Tamada predicted that the real challenge would come towards the end of the race, so he made sure he was kind to his tires, while defending the lead. His lead with Azlan would go on until lap 10. Tamada makes a fancy high side in Turn 7, and crashes. The race was red-flagged due to the oil that was spilled from Tamada’s machine.
The race was incomplete at this point, but the riders and the organizer decided to end the race here, considering the rider’s claim that the track was too slippery and dangerous to continue. By this decision, the result from the last lap was taken, and let Tamada take his second win of the weekend. Because the race was incomplete, the decision was made to grant 50% of the points given at a complete race.
With this, Tamada jumps up to 2nd in the Championship with 88.5 points. Azlan leads the title chase, with 120 points, and Zamri is in 3rd with 81 points, followed by Katsuaaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki) at 80.5 points, and M. Fadli Imammudin at 51 points. In the Team Standings, MuSASHI Boon Siew Honda Racing (Azlan/Tamada) currently leads with 127.5 points.
Tamada was taken to the medical center immediately after the crash, but although he is a little sore on his hip and fingers, there were no fractures or anything serious found. Tamada will be flying back to Japan and will participate in the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race on July 25-28 at Suzuka Circuit.
Round 4 of the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship is scheduled to be held on August 30th-September 1st at Suzuka Circuit.
Comment, Makoto Tamada #100 MuSASHI Boon Siew Honda Racing
“I am happy that I won both races at Madras. I deeply thank the team and my chief mechanic, Nakazawa, that provided me with a machine that could win in this difficult conditions. Although I did get lucky in Race 2, I would like to celebrate this victory. Although I’m a little sore from the crash, I will be taking advice from my trainer as soon as I return to Japan, so that I will be fully recovered and prepared for the Suzuka 8 Hours and aim for the win there also.”
Asia Road Racing Championship Rd3 SS600 Race 2 Video Highlights