The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is at the Jerez circuit in Spain for the final round of the 2023 Supersport World Championship, in which it is competing with Tarran Mackenzie, Ibrahim Norrodin and wildcard Khairul Idham Pawi.
After a complicated Friday that saw almost all the SSP riders sit out FP1 due to the wet track conditions, the action recommenced with this morning’s Superpole qualifying session. Mackenzie hit the ground running during the brief qualifying phase, setting a series of solid lap times, the best of which in 1’44.603. This meant that the Brit qualified twenty-fourth for the weekend’s races. Both Norrodin and Pawi took a significant step forward with respect to their performance on Friday, lowering their lap times by a good couple of seconds. A best of 1’45.004 for Khairul saw him close in twenty-seventh place, with Ibrahim finishing twenty-ninth with a time of 1’45.632. Both Pawi and Norrodin were subsequently moved up one grid position after another rider received a penalty.
The first race of the weekend got underway in dry conditions at 12.30pm local time (CET). Lap one was a little chaotic after two riders crashed through the first turns and, having made up several positions through the first turns, Norrodin unfortunately suffered the same fate on lap two.
Mackenzie immediately gained two positions to place twenty-second by the end of lap one. Soon able to get into a good rhythm and aided also by several crashes for other riders, the British rider was up into seventeenth by lap six. In a group of five riders from mid-race on, Tarran battled hard with his closest rivals, picking up the pace to set his fastest times over the final five laps. The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda rider eventually crossed the line in nineteenth position.
Competing in his first ever Supersport race, Pawi gained ground through the opening laps, going from twenty-seventh on the grid to twenty-fourth where he tucked in behind team-mate Mackenzie. He continued to make progress as the race went on and was inside the top twenty by lap seven. Part of a small group that also included Tarran, the Malaysian did his best to remain in contact with those immediately ahead. Losing a little group over the final laps, Pawi’s debut WorldSSP appearance brought an encouraging twenty-first place finish.
Tarran Mackenzie P19
“The first few laps were a little scary, with a few crashes, then someone nearly took me out and I nearly did the same to somebody else. Thankfully it settled down a bit after that, but I found it hard to get into a rhythm. We’d changed the gearing and I wasn’t immediately comfortable, but the feeling got better and better as the race went on. We had a small problem in qualifying that I’d hoped we could fix for the race, but we didn’t manage to – hopefully we can sort that for tomorrow and then we just need to see what the weather brings.”
Ibrahim Norrodin DNF
“I have mixed feelings about qualifying this morning, as we made a good start to the session but unfortunately then made a change that didn’t pay off. Luckily, we managed to identify the right way forward in terms of setup for the race. I made an amazing start, probably the best of my racing career in that I immediately made up ten positions, so I was gutted that my race ended prematurely when I lost the front through turn 5. Anyway, we’ll keep our heads down for race 2 and I feel confident we’re heading in the right direction after today. It’s been a memorable and unimaginable experience to race on the world stage, competing in these last three rounds, and so I definitely want to end it on the highest note possible.”
Khairul Idham Pawi P21
“I’m very happy to have the opportunity to race here at Jerez this weekend. In race 1 I struggled with the rear grip which was causing me to lose time through certain sections. We knew it wouldn’t be easy this weekend anyway, as everything is new for me, so I didn’t have any particular expectations. I did my best and am pleased to have completed the race and now we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”