Tuesday, October 7

JAPANESE POISED TO TAKE ASIA TALENT CUP

by Michael Esdaile

WITH just two rounds left to run in the inaugural Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, five Japanese riders top the points table.

Yuta Date leads the series into the Motegi round on October 12 with 112 points, scored across the six rounds run to date at Losail (Qatar), Sentul (Indonesia), Zhuhai (China) and Sepang (Malaysia).  There have been two rounds at the latter two circuits.


Yuta Date going for it at a damp Zhuhai.

Date scored the opening round win after starting from pole position at Losail on March 23.  From there he has finished on the podium at all but the second Sepang round on September 21, with 3-2-1-3 placings.  He slipped to sixth place at the second Sepang race, allowing compatriot Kaito Toba to close to within four points.

After failing to score a single point at the opening round, Toba came back strongly, with wins at Sentul on May 11 and Zhuhai (June 14).  He slipped to fourth in the second Zhuhai race (June 15) then won again at Sepang on September 20 and scored second place at the second Sepang race a day later.



Ayumu Sasaki struts his stuff

But it was another Japanese who was the sensation of Sepang II:  14-year-old Ayumu Sasaki made up for his DNF on Saturday by winning Sunday’s race from early leader Toba and local Malaysian hope Adam Norrodin.  That elevated him to fourth in the series on 86 points, just 26 points behind points leader Date.  The other Japanese riders in the top five are Ryo Mizuno (75 points) and Takuma Kunimine (65 points). 

Malaysian Adam Norrodin.
Malaysian hope Adam Norrodin is sixth on the points table and his best finish so far was his third at Sepang II.


SHELL ADVANCE ASIA TALENT CUP
Inaugurated last year and run for the first time in 2014, the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup is similar to the Red Bull Rookies Cup run alongside MotoGP events in Europe in that it is designed as a feeder series into world championship racing.

The riders compete on identical Honda NSF250R Moto3 machines.

The series is operated by Dorna, commercial rights holders to both the Eni Superbike World Championship and the MotoGP series as well as the Red Bull Rookies Cup series.  It is led in part by successful talent scout Alberto Puig, who also established the MotoGP Academy.

The series is decided over nine races and aims to provide a spotlight for the most talented young riders in Asia and provide them a formal path into competitive road racing.   The series  got underway at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit in October 2013 with selection trials to decide the 22 riders.

In the final tally, eight Japanese, seven Malaysians and three Thais made it through, along with one rider each from: Singapore, Philippines, China and Indonesia.

The oldest rider was 18-year-old Thailands’ Nakarin Atiratphuvapat; the youngest – Ayumu Sasaki of Japan, who turned 15 on October 4, 2014.

The season started in February in Spain (Motorland Aragon) with a four day test where riders were able to ride for the first time the Honda NSF250R Moto3 bikes.

The 22 riders selected for the 2014 Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup.

The Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup organisation provides all-encompassing support to riders with a full, professional infrastructure meeting international racing standards but also managing all the logistics involved in running a pan-Asian series.


Beyond nurturing their talents, the support provided to the riders also includes insurance coverage, travel and accommodation for each round, so they can focus on the job at hand: developing their potential as motorcycle racers.