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Kunimine wins on the line

Kunimine wins on the line

Just forty-three thousandths of a second separated the top four in the first race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup in Qatar.

The big stars of the MotoGP™ World Championship got to watch an incredible spectacle in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, as the riders completed the first race of the weekend at the Losail International Circuit, as part of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

The race, scheduled for 14 laps, met the expectations set in qualifying as the lead group showed just how evenly they are matched and right from the start it was clear it was going to be an incredibly close race.

A group of nine riders broke away from the rest of the field with the pole sitter Atiratphuvapat and Sasaki dicing at the front, along with Masaki who was the first to set a quick lap, lowering the track record by 1.7s. Although the pace wasn't as quick as expected, as strong winds meant riders could not match the pole time set yesterday.

Azman and Rostam crashed out of the leading group under braking at the end of the start/finish straight, luckily both riders escaping without injury. Yuta Date, the runner-up last year in the Cup, fell away from the main group as the injury to his right leg affected his performance.

The leading group of Atiratphuvapat, Izdihar, Chantra, Kunimine, Masaki and Sasaki were constantly swapping positions and at times were six-wide in the braking zone. It was clear the race would come down to the very last corner.

On the last lap Sasaki made a break, with only Masaki sticking with the leader, but one of the characteristics of the Losail circuit is the long home straight, with the finish line a long way from the final corner. This means that the rider who exits the final corner first, is often not the one to take the race win as riders have a chance to take advantage of each others slipstreams. So it was on this occasion, with Sasaki leading out of turn 16 onto the straight and Masaki on his back wheel. They were so close as they approached the line that they actually touched, and in fact were overtaken by both Kunimine and Chantra, who seemed to come from nowhere, to knock Sasaki down to third.

Despite missing out on the race win, Ayumu Sasaki remains the leader of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup after race 3 of the scheduled 12. The Japanese rider has a lead of 10 and 11 points respectively over Atiratphuvapat and Chantra.

Click here for the results for race 1.


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