Thursday, October 23

SEPANG TO DECIDE SHELL ADVANCE ASIA TALENT CUP

This weekend at Sepang the inaugural Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup reaches its conclusion with the final two races of the competition, which got underway back in March at the Losail circuit in Qatar.

The 22 riders participating in the Cup will have their last two races on Saturday and Sunday alongside the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

The riders compete on identical Honda NSF250R Moto3 machines.

It has been an exciting first season for the Asia Talent Cup.  Seven races already been run: at Losail (Qatar), Sentul (Indonesia), Zhuhai (China), Sepang (Malaysia) and Motegi (Japan). 

The riders have already competed at Sepang in September in races five and six of the season, so it should hold no surprises this time around.

Going into their final race weekend, five riders still have a mathematical chance of becoming the first ever Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup Champion, though the three top riders have significant points advantage.  

Yuta Date leads with 121 points, just two points ahead of Kaito Toba and 10 ahead of Ayumu Sasaki.

Sasaki, the youngest of the 22 participants (he turned 14 on October 4), was the winner in the last race just under two weeks ago at Motegi and of the previous race, the last of the two run at Sepang.  

Series leader Date also has two victories to his name whilst Toba has won three times, but scored no points in the season opener in Qatar.  In fourth and fifth respectively Takuma Kunimine and Ryo Mizuno could potentially still take the title but are 40 and 46 points behind the Championship leader.

Whilst the Japanese riders dominate the rankings, the Malaysians are showing great progress in the second half of the season, turning their potential into performance.  Shafiq Rasol is sixth overall and Adam Norrodin is seventh, with both of them looking forward to racing on home territory again having each reached the Sepang podium on the last visit.

Keep an eye out too for Thai pair Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and Muklada Sarapuech, with Sarapuech already having recovered from a heavy crash at Motegi.  Both have shown flashes of their skill with good pace in practice and are looking for good race results.

After Friday Free Practice and Qualifying, the first of the two races scheduled will be held at 4.30pm local time on Saturday, then Sunday’s second and final race will get underway at midday, just before the running of the Moto3 race.

Even then it is not over for Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup activity.  Monday and Tuesday will see more than 170 riders participating in the selection event for the 2015 edition of the Cup.  These riders have been chosen from no less than 700 applicants, and three of them are listed as New Zealanders.

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.