Japan’s Yuki Ito delivered a sensational performance as he stormed to his maiden SuperSports 600cc pole ahead of Malaysian, Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi in the PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship qualifying session at the Suzuka Circuit, Japan on Saturday.

Representing PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha, Yuki threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field with 2’14.242s at the 23-minute mark, right before race marshalls signalled the red flag.

Zaqhwan who led the timesheets in the earlier parts of the session settled for second spot with 2’14.282s, 0.004 seconds off Yuki’s best lap while Makoto Tamada rounded up the top three with 2’14.296s.

Meanwhile Mohd Zamri Baba suffered an unfortunate blow to his campaign as he was declared unfit to compete on Sunday following a massive high side in the third practice session. The 31-year old crashed while trying to avoid a collision with Thailand’s Jakkrit Swangswat, inflicting further damage to his injured leg.

“It feels fantastic to finally pick up pole after several seasons competing in the ARRC,” said Yuki.

“However, I don’t consider this to be one my best run because I made a couple of mistakes in my flying lap. Additionally, the bike is not 100 percent ready because the engineers had to change the setup a lot to meet changing weather conditions,” he added.

Speaking about his expectations for the race tomorrow, Yuki commented, “We anticipate a tight battle but I believe starting from pole gives us a certain advantage over the field. Hopefully we can win the race or at least finish on the podium.”

Separately, Ahmad Fazli Sham and Mohd Affendi Rosli delivered a faultless ride to secure a one-two start for PETRONAS Hong Leong Yamaha in the Underbone 130cc qualifying.

His second pole position after Sepang, Fazli clocked the quickest lap out of 14 contesting riders in 2’45.009s while Affendi who won here last season stopped the clock at 2’45.457s followed by Gupita Kresna with 2’45.526s.

“This is my first time racing at Suzuka so of course I am very happy and excited to grab pole. Making things sweeter, Affendi will start the race next to me and we are both aiming to finish on the podium tomorrow,” said Fazli Sham.

Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa will start the Underbone 130cc race from second row alongside Ferlando Herdian and Hokky Krisdianto (Outdo Koyoko Motul YY Pang Racing Team).

Vorapong Malahuan, Ahmad Fazrul Sham and Mohd Rozaiman Mohd Said is set to take off from third row.

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