Malaysia’s Zaqhwan to lead Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa for Sepang 8 hours

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi will feature in team Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa, a top ten team in the Suzuka 8 Hours, at the Sepang 8 Hours at the Sepang International Circuit from Dec 13 to 15.

The Sepang 8 Hours race is a new flagship of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) calendar that serves as a qualifying event for the Suzuka Grand finale.

The 24-year-old Zaqhwan has been the team’s number one rider since 2016 in the ASB1000 (Superbike) class in the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC).

According to a statement by FIM, Zaqhwan would ride alongside Indonesian rider Gerry Salim, who competes in the Moto2 European Championship, and Thai Moto2 world championship rider Somkiat Chantra.

The Selangor-born rider would be making his fifth appearance with the team and his first appearance on homeground for the EWC.

The Sepang 8 Hours would be the first ever winter race in the championship’s history, and its second race in Asia.

The new round is the result of calendar restructuring by Eurosport Events, the FIM EWC promoter since 2015.

Fifty teams, including 36 full-season 2019-2020 FIM EWC entries (21 in Formula EWC, 15 in Superstock), would be on the track in Malaysia alongside 12 Asian teams seeking to qualify for the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours.

The pre-eminent entry is Malaysian squad Yamaha Sepang Racing, with a line-up featuring MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Malaysia’s star rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and fourth overall in the FIM Superbike Championship and four-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours Michael van der Mark.

A couple of all-Japanese teams would also be worth keeping an eye on: Kawasaki-mounted RS Itoh (Akira Yanagawa, Kasuki Ito and Hitoyasu Izutsu) and Team Plus One (BMW) with racers Taro Sekiguchi, a former GP250 rider like his teammate Daisaku Sakai (who rode for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team in 2011) and Kousuke Nagoe.

Meanwhile, several FIM EWC teams, including three favourites who had to withdraw from the opening round at Bol d’Or, are targeting to win at Sepang.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France, halted by engine failure while in the lead, and Webike SRC Kawasaki France and YART Yamaha, who both subsequently fell victim to oil spillage from the Honda, have to catch up with the Bol d’Or winner Suzuki Endurance Racing Team as well as Wojcik Racing Team, the surprise runner-up of the opening round, and the ambitious new factory squad BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, who finished in 3rd place at the Bol d’Or.

The Superstock class would also see a close fight between Moto Ain, the winner of the 2018-2019 World Cup and the Bol d’Or, and Japanese team Tone RT (BMW), the top Superstock of the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours 2019 (14th past the finish line).

The first edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang, to be held on Saturday, Dec 14, is a key component of an all-new dual event in Asian motorsport history.

For the very first time, Sepang International Circuit and Eurosport Events will bring together two-and-four-wheel action on the same weekend from day to night: FIM EWC, with the 8 Hours of Sepang, and the 2019 super finale of the World Touring Car (WTCR).

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)