Do these names ring a bell? Marvin Mangulabnan, Dashi Watanabe, Raniel Resuello, and brothers Troy and TJ Alberto. These are the ace Pinoy riders who are familiar faces in the Philippine Superbike Championship (PSBK).
These guys have been raking in championship titles in the past years, alternatively racing between only two race tracks in the country. Is there a future in superbike racing for these highly-talented racers after this?
While TJ had just finished battling with the world’s best in the European Superstock 1000, many Pinoy racers still find themselves confined to the local racing scene due to lack of logistical support. Dude! You need to have deep pockets to be in this kind of motorsport.
And yet we don’t want these young, talented riders to just disappear into oblivion.
The Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC), an FIM (International Motorcycling Federation)-sanctioned regional motorcycle racing event, gives a ray of hope to these Pinoy superbike racers. In a Yamaha event held in Jakarta last Thursday, ARRC officials announced that it will start the 1,000cc superbike class in the 2019 Season. "Since we first announced our intention to race the Superbike class in 2015, we have held multiple meetings with all the stakeholders in the Asian motorcycle racing industry," says Ron Hogg, director of Two Wheels Motor Racing Sdn Bhd. "We believe that the time is finally right to turn the Asian Superbike class from concept into reality."
The ARRC is considered a launching pad for outstanding riders in the Asia Pacific who are dreaming to race in world racing events, including the FIM Superbike World Championship and MotoGP. We learned that the technical specifications for the new class will follow the FIM SuperStock regulations. ARRC officials cited two reasons for introducing the superbike category: 1) The fast-growing market for more powerful motorbikes in the region; and 2) To unite the different motorcycle races in this part of the world, to be able to produce riders who can compete in global motorcycle racing events.
ARRC can sense that the major motorcycle manufacturers, particularly the Big Four Japanese brands, will put their gaming chips 'all-in' into the superbike category. Yamaha Philippines, Inc. (YMPH) supported two Pinoys, McKinley Kyle Paz and Fernando Masato, in the past rounds of the ARRC as ‘wild-card entries.’ It's obvious that YMPH is now testing the waters.
The ARRC presently has three racing categories: Underbone 150cc (the most popular), Asia Production 250cc, and Super Sport 600cc. Kyle (riding for the Uma Racing Yamaha Maju Motor Asia Team) finished a strong 2nd place in the Underbone 150cc in Australia last April. The series has lined up six rounds of racing from February to December this year. The racing venues include Chang International Racing Circuit in Thailand, The Bend Motorsports Park in Australia, Suzuka Circuit in Japan, Madras Motor Race Track in India, and Sentul Circuit in Indonesia. The final round of the 2018 racing season goes back to the Chang International Racing Circuit on December 1, 2018.
Speaking of prestige, the ARRC is broadcast live in three countries: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. "There will be two more countries to help promote the ARRC," says a race official. ARRC officials were quick to acknowledge the participation of Yamaha in the opening season for the much-anticipated superbike category.
For sure, Yamaha has got its new YZF-R1 (20thanniversary edition) locked and loaded for the battle royale with other 1,000cc race bikes in the opening salvo of the ARRC superbike event.
Are you ready to place your bets?