GUNAWAN CLINCHES SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE TITLE

151208_11

India’s Andreas Gunawan has clinched the 2015 SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE Championship at the weekend’s fifth and final round at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.

The single-platform series, which is a new rider development programme using Suzuki’s FU150 and produced and operated by Yukio Kagayama, has seen five exciting events staged in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand and run in conjunction with the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC).

The championship went down to the final race of the season on Sunday and was a hotly-contested battle with series top-three Gunawan, Thailand’s Patis Chooprathet and Japan’s Takeru Murase. The lead in the seven-lap race changed 10 times; Murase took a dive into the corner to take the lead, but slid off. Gunawan, who was right behind Murase, looked on for the race victory until Malaysia’s Nazirul Izzat Bin Muhammad Baharuddin took a clean run past on the final corner to claim his first win in the series.

The #88 said: “It was a tough race today. I tried hard not to fall and waited for the chance to pass, and the right moment came at the final corner of the final lap. I didn’t think I was going to win, but I did it! SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE has opened up a lot of possibility for me as racer, and there were many precious things I learned from it.”

2015 SAC Champion Gunawan said: “I was determined to take the Championship title today. Everyone was very fast this weekend so I knew it was going to be a tough one to win it, but I knew I would win the title if I finished fourth, so I tried to be smart. I followed the pack and tried to find the right moment. My year with SAC saw my riding improve significantly. I made a lot of friends from other countries and I learned a lot about motorcycles. This has been the best year of my racing career. Tomorrow I will be riding Team KAGAYAMA SUZUKI Asia’s GSX-R600. I have ridden the street version so I am looking forward to it and I am confident I can ride it.”

SAC General Manager Yukio Kagayama added: “I have started the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE with Suzuki this year to develop young Asian riders with dream of one day becoming a MotoGP™ rider. I received tremendous support from everyone involved; sponsors, the riders and the fans and I would like to thank each and every one of them.

“To be honest, I was worried about how the riders would progress when I first saw them ride at Sepang, but they showed improvement at every round. They not only improved in their riding skills, but in racing fairly, and in mental preparation. I am confident that they are now steps closer to becoming world-class riders. Everything they learned will be a plus to them in their future racing career and I sincerely hope that they will one day become a MotoGP rider. Learning together with fellow riders from different nationalities and cultures should make them grow up, not only as riders, but also as human beings and I hope they use what they learn in whatever they do in the future.”

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