Access Plus Racing has officially unveiled their entry for the 2019 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) during a press conference at Ducati Manila in Quezon City, Philippines. Running under the team name Access Plus-Racing-Ducati Philippines-Essenza, the team will field two Ducati Panigale V4R motorcycles in the ASB1000 Class supplied and supported by Ducati Corse. Team riders will be TJ Alberto and Jonathan Serrapica, with Team Principal Toti Alberto at the helm.
TJ Alberto is no push over when it comes to racing. He started riding motorcycles at the age of 4, he rose to prominence by winning the Philippine Superbike Novice and Intermediate classes. Setting his sights on to the bigger leagues, TJ raced in Europe between 2017 and 2018 at the Campionato Italiano Velocita, followed by the World SBK Superstock 1000 where he achieved remarkable points in the season. TJ's debut in the Asian Road Racing Championship ASB1000 (Asia Super Bike1000) will also mark the first time a Filipino rider competes in that top ARRC category.
During the Q&A, we at MotoPinas.Com asked TJ what kind of training he does to level-up his game especially now that he will be competing at the world legues: he cross-trains with dirtbikes. “When I ride a dirtbike, the [traction] level is quite low. It can easily slide the front and rear tires and it helps me better understand how the bike reacts.” TJ further added that the economics involved in practicing with dirtbikes was also manageable, including greatly minimizing the risk of injuring himself during practice. “If I crash, I usually don't break anything on a dirtbike. If I crash or make one mistake on a superbike, I would probably be finished for the season.”
Italian-Swiss rider Jonathan Serrapica will be Alberto's teammate for the 2019 season. Serrapica was the 2017 Malaysian Superstock Champion and finished runner-up in the 2018 Malaysian Superbike Championship. Both Access Plus Racing-Ducati Philippines-Essenza riders will use the latest-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R - a 998cc World Superbike homologated version of the Panigale V4. The Panigale V4 R adopts advanced aerodynamics and adjustability similar to the GP16 MotoGP race bike. Suspension is courtesy of an Öhlins fully adjustable titanium nitride NPX front fork and rear fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 monoshock.
The team's conquest for the world championships is both inspiring and intimidating for local racing teams here in the Philippines, so we asked Team Principal Toti Alberto, who was also a former Philippine Superbike champion during his time, to give us an idea how much would it cost a racing team for such a campaign and his answer was “a lot of zeroes”. He further explained that just for the logistics alone (transporting the bikes, manpower, customs and duties, etc.) is already too much. Toti further added that the team was happy that there are a lot of partners/sponsors who share their vision and helped the team go internationally.
The Asia Super Bike 1000 (ASB1000) is currently the Asia Road Racing Championship's (ARRC) highest level of production bike racing. It offers a regional platform where riders graduating from their respective national championships can compete. The ASB1000 will run based on FIM Superstock 1000 regulations with machinery that is equivalent to what is being sold for the road going public. The 2019 season will consist of seven rounds with two races per event, visiting circuits in Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan.
2019 FIM Asia Road Racing Championship Race Schedule
Official Test | March 5-6 (Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia)
Round 1 | March 8-10 (Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia)
Round 2 | April 25-28 (The Bend Motorsport Park, Australia)
Round 3 | May 31-June 2 (Chang International Circuit, Thailand)
Round 4 | June 28-30 (Suzuka Circuit, Japan)
Round 5 | August 9-11 (Korea International Circuit, South Korea)
Round 6 | September 19-22 (Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia)
Round 7 | November 29-December 1 (Chang International Circuit, Thailand)