KUALA LUMPUR: Zaqhwan Zaidi did just enough to secure his maiden ASB1000 Asia Road Racing Championships (ARRC) title in Buriram, Thailand today.
Zaqhwan had little margin for error, with only a six-point advantage over Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin going into the final premier class race.
The race played out in mixed conditions, with both Kasma and Zaqhwan briefly leading. In the end, Kasma finished fourth (+6.380s) and Zaqhwan took fifth (+6.478s), which was enough for the latter to secure the title with 157 points.
Japan's Haruki Noguchi ended the season in second (154 points), while Kasma settled for third on 153.
The final race was, however, won by veteran Thai rider Suhathai Chaemsup (23:01.54s), who was the only rider on the track using slick tyres.
Japan's Ikuhiro Enokido crossed the line second (+4.803s), while 2019 champion Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was third (+5.830s).
Zaqhwan, who won the ARRC Supersport 600 class titles in 2014 and 2016, said: "I cannot describe this feeling... I am so happy.
"I tried my best and the team also did a wonderful job this season. Finally, we are champions.
It was a nightmare weekend for Helmi Azman, who held a 32-point lead going into the Thai round, as his fifth-place finish (+21.038s) in the final Supersport 600 race was not enough to secure him the title.
Andi Farid Izdihar needed to win the race to take the championship and, despite being briefly overtaken by Ratthapong Willairot on the last lap, did just that.
Andi crossed the line first in 21:49.924s to secure the title on 158 points, the same as Helmi. Andi, however, took the championship as he had more wins this season.
Thailand's Nakarin Atiratphuvapat was third overall (137 points).
Ratthapong (+0.550s) and fellow Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi (+7.806s) finished the race in second and third.
It was a similar story in the Underbone 150 class as Izzat Zaidi Salehan (Pitsbike JRT OneWay) missed out on the title by a point.
Izzat finished 12th (+35.117s) in the final race as rival Wahyu Aji Trilaksana of Indonesia placed fifth (+2.535s) — just enough to secure the title on 140 points.
Philippines' April King Mascardo ended the season third overall (91 points).
Veteran Ahmad Fazli Sham took the race win in 17:40.433s, with Syafiq Rosli (+0.336s) and Hafiza Rofa (+2.246s) coming in second and third.