Friday, January 17, 2014

Sepang T-180 Endurance Race

11 JANUARY 2014 Malaysian Super Series (MSS) rider Luca Cassoni took TWG Racing into the history books after the Italian and his Malaysian counterpart Shazali Shahrani today won the inaugural T-180 Three-Hour Endurance – the first ever superbike endurance race organised by Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

For the three-hour contest, the partnership completed 70 laps around the challenging MotoGP 5548-meter on their BMW HP4 machine; finishing 2 minutes 0.343 seconds ahead of second-placed Mohd Najuib Alias and Ahmad Abas, who also completed 70 laps on their Kawasaki ZX10R. 

Mohd Riduwan and Muhammad Amirul Hafiz Mustafa completed the podium; winning third place at the tail-end of the contest after a close battle with fourth-placed Nasaruddin Mat Yusop and Fadil Marsus. Competing on Honda CBR1000 machines, both teams completed 68 laps with Riduwan and Muhammad Amirul finished 34.384 seconds earlier. 

Organised as part of the inaugural KBS-MAM-SIC Endurance 2104, the superbike endurance race filled the morning session of the programme, with the afternoon session featuring the KBS MAM Kapcai Endurance National Championship Grand Finals – a four-hour endurance contest for underbone bikes under 150cc. 

Cassoni, who finished second overall in the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) Superbike Championship in the 2013 season behind Japanese Yasuhiro Kuhara, said he was happy to win the contest especially after encountering a major scare on Lap 7 of the race. 

"Maybe due to strong vibrations, the brake handle shockingly dropped off. I was very fortunate to catch it before it fell to the ground while managing to stay on the bike. There was a short brief moment of scare and suspense when the bike wobbled as I was trying to stay on the bike. Fortunately, I managed to keep on the bike and rode straight into the pits. 

 "The team crew was excellent. They did a great job in fixing the problem. And, they did it very fast. So, we managed not to lose too much time. Shazali was excellent despite being a rookie. We worked well together," said Cassoni. 

Competing in Sepang for the first time, Shazali, who declared that he would be coming back next year to defend his T-180 Endurance crown with Cassoni, said he was thrilled to win the race in his debut. 

 "I am very, very happy. Except for that brief suspense on the brake handle, the bike was great. It performed well and definitely contributed hugely to our success. I would also like to thank the team and SIC for organising this event. This is a good event," said Shazali, who also announced that he would be competing in the MSS Supercompact Championship this year. 

 Echoing his team-mate views, Cassoni hoped that SIC would continue to build the event, which was also supported by Pirelli. "First and foremost, it is a good training ground for the MSS riders. You see the MotoGP riders coming here every year during pre-season testing doing 20-plus straight laps. It is hard and challenging and that helps make them great riders. The T-180 can help us at the MSS. 

 "It is a great test of our stamina and fitness. It is also a strong test for our focus. The sun and the heat were very challenging today. But, overall, we had a great time," said Cassoni, who is based in Singapore and a regular at the MSS. 

SIC had announced that they would nurture the event to grow at the same par of the Sepang 12-Hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) for cars and become the leading bike endurance race in South East Asia. 

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