Monday, October 27

TOBA FIRST ASIA TALENT CUP CHAMP

Japanese rider Kaito Toba is the inaugural Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup champion after a hectic final race at Malaysia's Sepang Circuit on October 27.

Run as a curtain raiser ent Cto the world championship classes, the final Asia Talent Cup race was another thriller.  Once again Malaysian fans were bouyed by a strong performance from Saturday's race winner Shafiq Rasol but it was Takuma Kunimine who won the race.
The last of nine races in the first season of the competition got underway at midday local time at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with all the focus on two riders, Toba and Yuta Date - separated by just two points in the standings as they lined up on the grid.
The third rider who arrived at Sepang with a title chance, Ayumu Sasaki, crashed in Saturday’s race 8 of the season and broke his wrist, meaning he was unable to race on Sunday.
At the race start, Thai rider Muklada Sarapuech got away brilliantly to lead, despite starting eighth on the grid.  But midway through the first lap Sarapuech went to ground just in front of Date, who also fell. Date managed to rejoin the race but his championship chances had slipped away.
A front-running group gradually pulled clear to contest the lead, with Toba, Takuma Kunimine and the winner of Saturday’s race Shafiq Rasol joined by Adam Norrodin towards the end of the race.
Kunimine judged the hot conditions best of all, crossing the finish line first and securing his first win of the year. Rasol was second and Toba’s third place ensured him the championship.
The inaugural 2014 edition of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup produced an intense and exciting competition between the 22 young participants, as they raced in Qatar, China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.

Preparations for the 2015 season gather momentum on Monday with the first of two days of the Selection Event, also at Sepang, where the riders hoping to take part in next year’s competition will show their intentions to turn potential into performance.

Takuma Kunimine (21) leads Shafiq Rasol (3) while Adam Norrodin (10) shades Kaito Toba (16) in the dying stages of the final race in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup series, at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit.

SEPANG: RACE OF TWO HALVES

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

THE 2014 Malaysian MotoGP race at the Sepang International Circuit was played out in two halves, with Merciless Marc Marquez coming out on top to score his 12th win of the season, equaling Mick Doohan’s 1997 record.

With back-to-back wins in Malaysia the past two years and a strong practice and qualifying performance, Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was expected to be a strong challenger.  While Marquez got into an early encounter with Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo in the first corner, Pedrosa took the early lead.  However, Lorenzo recovered from his first corner tussle to sweep through into the lead before the first lap was over, with Pedrosa and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in tow.  Behind them were Valentino Rossi and Marquez.

Expectations were high that Pedrosa was about to settle in for a race-long cat-and-mouse game with Lorenzo but the Honda man made a rare mistake, going down in the final corner at the end of the second lap.  He restarted and had worked his way back into the points before he crashed a second time and retired.  He was running 11th at that point.

Out front, Lorenzo tried to get away but Rossi, with Marquez in tow, dispatched Dovizioso and gave chase.

Lorenzo led the first nine of 20 laps before Rossi made his move, snatching the lead at the midway point, to the delight of the Yellow Hordes on both sides of the main grand stand.

But Marquez had been steadily closing the gap to the two Yamaha men and after letting Rossi have his moment in the sun, the Repsol Honda man pounced.  From that point he was never headed, though Rossi tried his best.

And Lorenzo?

The two-time MotoGP champ said he had not been able to train as hard as he would like at the three ‘fly-away’ races (Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang) so he just didn’t have enough left in the tank in the second half of the race, and was having trouble with his braking.

That left the young Honda man and the Yamaha veteran going at it for most of the second half.  But just as Rossi thought he was in with a chance, Marquez upped the pace, dipping back down into the 2m 01s bracket, similar to what he had been recording around laps six to eight.

Rossi was unable to live with that, easing back to a 2m 3s lap on his penultimate circuit, leaving Marquez to go on to win by two and a half seconds.

Marquez’s race time was 40m 45.523s, a whisker slower than Pedrosa’s 2013 race record.

For full results, click here

RABAT GETS THE JOB DONE

After the torrid Moto3 race at Sepang, the Moto2 race that followed was a rather tame affair.

Esteve Rabat went into the race with commanding 41 point championship lead and only needed to be more than 25 points ahead of his Marc VDS team-mate Mika Kallio by the end to lock up the 2014 championship.

Rabat took the lead from the start and led the first nine laps before Kallio took over.  All the while Maverick Vinales was closing on the two Marc VDS riders and after Kallio led for five laps, Vinales took over and pulled away to win by just over two and a half seconds. 

Rabat settled into a comfortable third place and maintained that to the finish to emerge with the world title, with a round to spare.

For full Moto2 results, click here