UMA Racing Yamaha Philippines team had an incredible start to the Underbone 150cc class of the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) season by topping both races in the Malaysian leg (Round 1) of the 2019 season. After taking the top spots each in the two races of the last round, and taking the lead in the points battle for the championship, Pinoy team riders, McKinley Kyle Paz and Masato Fernando were marked men since they set foot in the country of Thailand for round 2.
Round 2 was set in Chang International Circuit, a formidable course that challenges professional riders of any skill level. Besides the challenge posed by the track's layout, the duo would have to endure the heat, putting their overall endurance to the test. There was the physical heat and the competitive heat, brought on by an entire grid of racers itching to deny them of another victory. Against the odds, these two riders focused both their minds and bodies for the uphill task that was to come.
Fernando, the more experienced of the two, had it rough in qualifying and started the race in 20th place. That wouldn’t be enough to slow down “The Chairman” as he pushed himself all the way through the grid to get to the 4th spot. When he was preparing to crack into that top three, an unfortunate clip with a fellow rider knocked him out of the lead pack, forcing him to bow out at the back in 19th place.
ARRC points leader, Paz, started behind an all-Malaysian troupe that made his run grueling from start to finish. After falling behind the main pack and into the backmarkers, he showed everyone why he ruled the Malaysian leg and climbed back up to finish Race 1 with a respectable 6th place finish.
Entering Race 2, the duo prepared for the relentless fury of their rivals. Before the start of the race, Fernando felt he had a technical issue with his motorcycle. The team tried to address it on the grid but there was not enough time. From the drop of the green flag, the competition was heated, causing an unfortunate crash that resulted in a red flag. As the fallen riders gathered their bearings, it was an opportunity for team Philippines to adjust their motorcycles. Due to the crash and the time it took to clear the track, the race was resumed and reduced to 6 laps, making it a virtual sprint to the finish line.
Paz started at the race in 5th place, while Fernando was at the back of the pack anew. But with a nation behind them, they were able to reach the front by the last two laps. For a moment, championship points leader, Paz, led the way with Fernando closing in on the rest of the leaders. But in the final corner, Fernando was part of a multi-rider crash that took away any chance at the podium. Paz, on the other hand, couldn’t maintain the lead as he was smothered by his foreign counterparts.
It was a tough round for them, but both have vowed to claim victory in the upcoming legs and continuing championship battle. For now, they shift their focus to Round 3 in Japan as Paz continues to defend his potential championship title and Fernando seeks to improve from 5th place in the standings.