|2007-2008 Race Results|
PETRONAS SPRINTA FIM ASIAN GRAND PRIX 2008 Round-1
MOVE INTO NEW TERRITORY: THE FIRST 600cc RIDE
The PSYI Team was ready to ride. Everything was in place: the deal was done with the sponsors, the riders and mechanics contracted, tools and transport readied.
Only one problem. No motorcycles.
While veteran Popi Sugianto and rising star Sudarmono were set to make their initial effort on the 600cc. Yamaha four-cylinder machines, the bikes were tied up in Indonesian Customs.
It was thus not until the first high-powered event rolled around that the machines were delivered, meaning that Team riders would be up against the fiercest competition imaginable at Sentul Circuit: Thai, Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian stars with considerable experience at speed on the multicylinder racers.
Round 1 of the 2008 PETRONAS FIM Asian GP was held at Sentul International Circuit on a clear and hot 25~27 April 2008 – the fact that Popi and Sudarmono would be competing on ‘home ground’ was at least one element in their favour.
Inasmuch as it would be the first time out for both riders on the new machines, there was no pressure to perform. In fact, specific instructions were given to take it easy and become comfortable with the unfamiliar big machines. Sponsors too had made it clear that the first year of competitive effort by Star Racing should form a positive learning curve, with steadily better finishes, as mechanics, tuners and riders became familiar with the new machines.
In spite of it being his first-ever ride on a large-bore motorcycle, Sudarmono, our newest Team member, surprised everyone during the first practice on Friday morning, clocking times as the fastest rider in the First Practice Session, with a surprising 1:34.165 lap time in 1st Qualifying
With around seven hours total riding experience on the 600cc bike, Sudarmono was the fastest Indonesian rider on Friday, marking a 6th Place in standings.
Ride the horse too hard and it might just turn around and bite you. Saturday morning practice saw Sudarmono crash at high speed coming out of the ‘Big S’, in Free Practice, giving onlookers a thrill as the machine cartwheeled in multiple endos. The young rider was unhurt, and claimed a lack of grip in the front end; the suspension was adjusted but this made little difference as Sudarmono threw the machine down the road, hard, during the 2nd Qualifying session.
‘It may be that he is not used to a heavy machine that he can’t control by moving around his body weight. With the 600 it’s more of a physical challenge, especially for a little guy... and he must control his right wrist wisely" observed Benny D.U., after the big crashes.
The Wonosari hotshot was putting on an amazing performance. He struggled out of the gravel pit and went to work on the scratched-up YZF-R6, managing to crash out on the fourteenth lap of the 1st race. Well, he was sure finding the machine’s limits – and his own limits as well, the hard way.
‘Reminds me of the early days of Alex Barros – and the guy we used to call “Crashy” Stoner’, observed veteran GP rider and World Point holder Byron Black.
Sudarmono DNFed in Race 1, on Lap 14 out of 16; Popi finished a commendable 5th [25:45.475], after a shock disqualification of four top finishers for alleged technical violations.
Another spill during the warmup lap for Race 2 put Sudarmono out of contention on Lap 14 (of 16), as the left engine cover had fractured, hot engine oil lathering the rear tire. This was not rider's fault, as no one can be expected to continue to compete with an 'oily rear tire'. He was thus unable to start Race 2.
Veteran rider Popi Sugianto had his hands full as well. He was already familiar with the high-speed power and handling characteristics of big bikes (he had taken part in training sessions at the Johor Bahru, Malaysia Circuit in past years), but the competition from veteran Thai, Japanese and Malaysian riders - not to mention the hot Indonesians - was formidable.
He was also distracted by the gradual loss of damping of the rear suspension unit, after 8-9 laps: specialised racing shocks would clearly be necessary to ensure top performance for future events.
Popi had an uneventful if frustrating day, as his lap times were adversely affected by engine overheating; the aforementioned disqualification of four riders meant that Popi gained a 2nd Place Podium finish in Race 2 [25:37.986, nearly 8 seconds quicker than his Race 1 time].
It was clear after this first SuperSport Class event, which in spite of technical and riding challenges resulted in no injury to riders or major damage to the machines, that intensive practice, lap after lap after lap, would be the only way to ensure steady performance at speed, particularly for the longer FIM Asian GP events.
PETRONAS SPRINTA FIM ASIAN GRAND PRIX 2008 Round-2
FAST & STEADY - LEARN FROM THE LEADERS!
The second time out for the PETRONAS Sprinta Yamaha Indonesia Racing Team, the entire team was fortunate to be able to compete once more at the race track with which riders and tuners were most familiar: smooth, simple Sentul.
Compare Qualifying Lap Times to note the progress of these two 'freshmen' (Popi had some experience riding multi-cylinder bikes, but in an era years before):
These varied lap times do however not reflect the smoother and more confident riding of these two competitors; in Round 1 Sudarmono was the fastest Indonesian rider, ahead of veterans of FIM Asian GP events. Popi came back strongly in Round 2, obviously feeling the need to better his team-mate.
Best of all, in Round 2 there were NO CRASHES: novice Sudarmono had quickly become comfortable with the performance and handling characteristics of the relatively heavy, wide YZR-600F - compared, of course, to the bebek underbone racer on which he had built his racing reputation. He could throw the lighter bike around easily, using his body weight: on the 600cc he had to learn smoothness and elegance in running at the edge of adhesion.
In Race 1 Sudarmono finished in 9th Place and Popi in 11th; in Race 2 Sudarmono gained 6th Place [25:19.697], almost 18 seconds ahead of his team-mate Popi in 9th Place [25:37.147]. Was this a sign of things to come, from the hard-charging younger generation?
It is so very frustrating for an underbone champ like Sudarmono to be a regular podium finisher, winning trophies every time out, and then to go into a completely different - and much quicker and more perilous - game, in which the leaders leave you far behind. Worse, some of those quicker riders are guys you used to beat in bebek racing!!
Patience, perseverance... continue to learn...
FASTRON-PERTAMAX TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2008, ROUND-2
EVERY RACE – A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Another outing on the big Yamahas, as Team Riders Popi Sugianto and Sudarmono, doing lap after lap in the comfortable and familiar environment of Sentul International Circuit, strengthened the men’s skills and confidence at speed. It was Round 2 of the Indonesian National Championship races.
June 1 dawned hot and sunny, as a number of big bikes assembled at Sentul, ready to show their stuff and fight for the chequered flag, in the 10-lap event. Interest was predominantly focused on the 600cc SuperStock racing class, as riders would be fighting for points and glory (and a little money would come in handy as well!)
Sentul, Indonesia’s only dedicated racing circuit, would be a good place for PSYI mechanics and riders to gain vital experience in racing these new machines.
It has long been known that increasing the number of variables in motorcycle racing jacks up the odds of disappointment. Professional racers – tuners, mechanics, team owners, riders – do not like surprises. They don’t appreciate variables such as weather, wind, machine modifications, tire peculiarities or schedule shifts, all of which can add work and introduce uncertainty.
Race reports in MotoGP sometimes mention that a given rider has demanded ‘last year’s frame’ or ‘the engine we used in previous races’ while the factory and sponsor want to try out a presumably quicker, lighter, steadier and generally more advanced model.
Advanced, yes. Untested in actual racing conditions – ah, that raises alarms.
The same thing goes for race courses. Sudarmono in particular needed to practice among other racers, at speeds he had never experienced on a motorcycle roughly twice as heavy and four times as powerful as anything he had ever ridden before. Better to do so on a familiar circuit: Sentul, where he had raced the lightweight bebek underbone machines for Yamaha and Suzuki, time and again.
Popi was also gaining experience and confidence, but this Indonesian National Championship event was not to be a day of victory for our team, as veteran Suzuki rider Achmad Jayadi stormed ahead from practice, turning a remarkable time of 1:34.965 on his agile GSX-R 600K8.
Popi’s best practice times were a decent 1:36.205 and 1:35.823 (eventually qualifying at 1:35.774 and 1:35.306), while rookie Sudarmono turned a 1:37.65 in Practice and qualified at 1:37.287. He was clearly proceeding cautiously up the learning curve, after the series of spectacular crashes of the previous event.
Only 7 starters meant that there would not be much close racing, and ten laps later the chequered flag saw Sudarmono in a surprising 3rd Place, ahead of team-mate Popi in 5th. This earned him 16 Points in the Indonesian National Championship standings.
Sudarmono failed to start Race 2, where Popi gained 20 points for a strong 2nd Place finish.
A healthy and safe race-learning experience, preparing the Team for coming FIM Asian GP events! The Team expectation of seeing both riders finish among the TOP-5 was successfully met.
Everybody is happy for the rising Novice rider - relief that he has come through well, in this trial by fire.
And on to Sepang - another major adventure for all concerned!
PETRONAS SPRINTA FIM ASIAN GRAND PRIX 2008 Round-3
PILOTING THE YAMAHAS UP THE LEARNING CURVE: ONWARD TO SEPANG
The StockSport 600cc event, one of a number of motorcycle races held as the PETRONAS FIM Asian GP, Round 3, at Sepang International Circuit, on 27 – 29 June 2008, was a pioneering effort for the PETRONAS Sprinta Yamaha Indonesia Racing Team.
Not only was it the first time any members of the Team had gone racing abroad, it was the first trip overseas for most – though Malaysia is similar to Indonesia in many aspects: the climate, natural setting, history and culture all seem rather familiar to Indonesians.
Fast, safe and smooth, this is the ‘home turf’ for Malaysian racing stars such as Ahmad Fuad Baharudin and Japanese Toshiyuki Hamaguchi, aka ‘The Hammer’, five-time winner at Sepang.
The fourth-fastest Indonesian rider in Qualifying, behind team-mate Popi Sugianto and veterans Ahmad Jayadi and Hendriansyah, Sudarmono was still learning the limits of the YZF-R6 at racing speeds – cautiously, considering his multiple spills at Sentul.
FASTRON-PERTAMAX TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2008, ROUND-3
SUDARMONO TAKES COMMAND AT SENTUL
For motorcycle enthusiasts the “Fastron Pertamax Touring Car Championship 2008 – Series 3” was only a minor race, a SuperStock 600cc Class event run at Sentul International Circuit on 5~6 July, sandwiched between car events.
Sudarmono’s best Qualifying Lap time of 1:35.458 was a tip-off to the hard attack he planned to mount during the race itself. Sudarmono and Popi qualified 1st and 2nd, which is how they eventually finished the 10-lap race event on Sunday 6 July. Lap times were somewhat erratic, as riders had only been given a short session in which to qualify. Sudarmono’s best was a 1:36.099, and Popi clocked up a 1:36.299, both remarkable lap times in view of this being the first year these gents have piloted multi-cylinder machines.
A confident Sudarmono led from the start of the event, and by Turn 2 (the fastest bend on the course) after the start he had already gained some ten meters over 2nd Place Popi, who was in turn just ahead of Suzuki star Ahmad Jayadi. He went on to win the race [16:13.556], an event in which there were only 8 finishers.
This was the second victory for young Sudarmono, who was clearly going quicker and quicker on his Yamaha 600. 2009 promises to be a very interesting and competitive season – let’s see if Indonesia can muscle its way among the race leaders…
MALAYSIAN SUPERSERIES 2008, Round-4
WE CAME TO WIN AND WIN WE DID
A second trip to Malaysia targeted two events, both important for different reasons. Riders, tuners and mechanics were building vital experience, gaining familiarity with the YZF-R6 and its peculiarities under the extreme stress of road racing.
Familiar faces from other teams, men and women in race administration, and the media were already dropping by to say hello and exchange news with the PSYI guys; practically everyone stayed at the same dowdy hotel in the town of Sepang, which also brought all the competitors closer together.
One rationale for the participation of the Petronas Sprinta Yamaha Indonesia Team in Round 4 of the Malaysian SuperSeries 2008 event, taking place on 11 ~ 12 July 2008, was to make up for the PSYI Team’s having missed the first event of the year; it would also be a handy opportunity for Popi and Sudarmono to gain competitive riding experience in an international setting – and without the pressure to perform that the FIM Asian GP series naturally contains.
Both Team riders were fast and smooth at Sepang, and proceeded to practice with considerable confidence – Popi and Sudarmono were already familiar with the twists and turns of the complex North Circuit. Machine settings learned from the previous event also made tuning easier and added to the reliability of the YZF-R6.
PETRONAS SPRINTA FIM ASIAN GRAND PRIX 2008 Round-4
BATTLE IN THE SOUTH: THE UPS AND DOWNS OF JOHOR BAHRU
FASTRON-PERTAMAX TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2008, ROUND-4
A NEW STAR SHARPENS THE CHALLENGE
Life got very exciting during the 2-day competition at Sentul International Circuit, held on 23 ~ 24 August 2008, as part of the scheduled touring car championships; the PSYI Team was there to take part in a SuperStock event included by the organisers.
Team Management determined that participation would fulfil several objectives:
There was concern reported about the recurrent overheating problems in the YZF-R6 motorcycles of Harlan, in spite of unusually pleasant weather at Sentul (hot spells with afternoon overcast and gentle winds). This problem seems to have been limited to Popi’s YZF-R6, and various measures have been taken to lessen it.
At the start of the event Sudarmono, who had set a scorching 1:34.633 Qualifying Lap, streaked away from all other riders, with a tight grouping of Popi and Harlan jousting for second position. Indonesian star Achmad Jayadi’s Suzuki motorcycle was notably slower than the PSYI 600cc machines, and he continued to fall behind in the event, which quickly spread out: Sudarmono far in front, Popi and Harlan competing vigorously, and the back-markers way behind in the rear.
Team management noted how Sudarmono exhibited new confidence and control throughout practice and the race event: he was smooth and fast. His practice times were consistently 1.0~1.3 seconds quicker than those he racked up at Sentul when still learning to ride the YZF-R6.
Popi, responding to competitive pressure from his teammates, was just under a second quicker than his previous times, at 1:35.997 (admittedly, he was also a newcomer to the multi-cylinder class), and Harlan showed an energetic and competitive spirit from his first day out, when he was able to record a Qualifying Lap time of 1:36.231, running on a new tire.
Team management was pleased to note that there were no crashes during the practice sessions, from Tuesday to Qualifying on Saturday.
Sudarmono was Harlan’s ‘racing guide’ on the 1st and 2nd day: by race day Handsome Harlan was looking confident, fast and steady on the big multi-cylinder Yamaha.
The severe competitive pressure from a brand-new Team member may have resulted in Popi eventually sliding off the course and falling, on the 4th Lap of the event (on the complex ‘spoon’ of the 3rd corner). He remounted and completed the Race, finishing dead last, in 10th position. Immediately afterwards Popi attributed his crash to an incorrect rear sprocket choice, which is being studied carefully by the Team.
It was observed that Harlan was braking early for the ‘Small Chicane’ at Sentul (Turns 6~7). When asked about this he claimed that late braking would result in increased machine overheating.
Note that all Team machines were running with PETRONAS Sprinta 5000 oil, and experienced no problems whatsoever. All riders claimed, however, that after the sixth lap clutch behaviour was different, compared to earlier laps. While Harlan’s bike ran with OEM clutch springs, Sudarmono’s and Popi’s bikes were fitted with YEC-springs.
It was truly Sudarmono’s day, as he sped off, then set a safe, fast pace to win the race, and 25 National Championship points, by a clear margin of six seconds over second-place Harlan (20 points). A spectacular performance and strong confidence was exhibited by Mono, quickly learning the limits of the YZF-R6.
As detail development of these machines and further rider experience adds up, it is expected that better results in later FIM Asia GP events will ensue, particularly in 2009 events.
FASTRON-PERTAMAX TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2008, ROUND-5
MONO, RAIN-MASTER, WINS AGAIN
Many experts were surprised when prime Indonesia's motor racing venue was moved from Ancol to Sentul, in the early 1990s.
Ancol, located along the Java Sea coastline, next to the water sports entertainment complex in North Jakarta, had an exciting but somewhat dangerous road course. When it was decided to build at Sentul, next to an exit to the Jagorawi Toll Road to the city of Bogor, it made sense from the point of view of access, open, rolling countryside and the proximity to urban developments.
The problem with holding motor racing events in Bogor Regency is its 4233mm average rainfall - one of the highest in the world! To cope with this (in more prosperous times) Sentul Circuit hired a pawang hujan, a retired Indonesian military officer who was said to have mastered occult techniques to control the weather, to dissuade the rain during racing events. (Lest you have your doubts about such 'weather voodoo' please note that international 5-star hotels in Bali are known to employ these practitioners to prevent fifty thousand dollar 'garden weddings' from being rained out!)
Alas the pawang has retired, and on 1~2 November 2008, the clouds moved right in from the southeast, to greet Round 5 of the Fastron-Pertamax Touring Car Championship.
Organisers hosted an adjunct motorcycle race, without allowing much track time for the two-wheel competitors. While free practice on Friday wasn't even timed, this was not an issue, as Popi, Sudarmono and the newly-hired Harlan had already become quite familiar with the performance characteristics of the YZF-R6 at the simple, flat West Java circuit.
Saturday saw the PSYI Team excel in timed practice, with a now-typical running order of Sudarmono-Popi-Harlan securing the first three spots on the starting grid. Mono, now quite confident with the relatively heavy 600cc motorcycle, posted a comfortable 1:35.429 in Qualifying, which no other rider could even come close to.
Popi's 1:36.065 was just a hair faster than newcomer Harlan's 1:36.649, showing that 'Handsome Harlan' was proving to be a quick learner on the four-cylinder 600, on just his second time in competition .
Once again, the PSYI Team was 'camping out' in the parking lot, as the preferred pit areas were all taken up by the four-wheel teams. The mood was relaxed, but this would intensify as the race drew closer.
Warm, sunny mornings and heavily overcast afternoons threatened to drown out the racers. Just before the start of the SuperStock 600cc race, a fine drizzle began to fall, on the Sighting Lap.
Would the organisers decide to start the race? It was in the balance. The decision was quickly made to go for it, and as the flag fell the nine starters sped off, the three PSYI leaders diving into Turn 1 cautiously but competitively: there's nothing like racing against your teammates to show your potential. The uncertainty of the weather meant that all had to ride judiciously.
As before, Mono was off and gone, gaining 20 meters on Popi and Harlan by the second Turn of the first lap. The two green-and-white-clad PSYI riders were swapping places, fighting for second.
An alert had gone round earlier, during practice, advising riders that Turns 4 & 5, coming out of the right-hand 'spoon' at the bottom of Sentul, had become quite slippery with accumulated dust and rubber; several riders nearly came off during Qualifying. This is where Popi, jousting with Harlan for Second Place, slipped and suffered a high-side on Lap 2 of the 10-lap event, crashing out of competition. He damaged the Yamaha's fuel tank and slightly sprained his shoulder; it was impossible for the veteran campaigner to remount and continue racing.
Mono went on to win the event, unchallenged; Harlan, riding steadily, finished well ahead of Indonesian national star Achmad Jayadi, on a Suzuki, in Third. Final race times for the leaders, of 17:13.432 and 17:13.084, reveal how Harlan had been gradually gaining on the leading Mono during the latter stage of the race. As the rain had begun to let up, riders opened up a dry racing line - but the track was still wet and treacherously slippery on either side!
This race was an important experience for the PSYI racers; while they are accustomed to racing the underbone bebek machines in the wet, riding a big multi-cylinder motorcycle at high speeds on a slippery surface is a very different matter. Mono rode fast and steady, secure as never before; Harlan kept his wits about him, showing reliability at speed. Popi showed his fighting spirit and did his best for the Team.
Stepping off the rain-drenched Podium, PSYI Team members prepared themselves for FIM Asian GP events at Zhuhai Circuit, another 'point and shoot' course emphasizing hard braking and tight maneuvers. The rain began to fall so furiously that the car race following the SuperStock event was cancelled!