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The first action of the year for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is now over at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, with the grid getting to grips with 2017 over two days at the track.
The first day was punctuated by some crashes for many of the grid, with the first session seeing four fallers and a total of 13 on Day 1 as a lot of the riders got their first taste of the circuit, the bike and their competition ahead of the first race weekend of the year. With a host of new recruits and some eager veterans ready for their next campaign, Japan and Indonesia lead the way on representation this season with eight and seven riders respectively – joined by competitors from the Philippines, Australia, Turkey, Malaysia and the host nation for the first action of the year, Thailand.
Malaysian Azroy Anuar was the quickest out the blocks, with experienced Rysuei Yamanaka, Can Öncü and Yuki Kunii next on the timesheets – and Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi putting in a solid first day at home to complete the top five.
Day 2 saw 14 fallers, and Anuar kept his good form rolling as he was a constant presence in the top three. Kaewsonthi also impressed once again as the number 15 rides at his home circuit; steadfastly remaining in the top echelons of the timesheets. The grid put in a race simulation in the afternoon of the second day, with a five lap Warm Up, a trip through the pits and then a full 18 laps out on track. There were some crashes – including a fall for Kaewsonthi at the final corner – but it was Can Öncü who took the victory, with Haruki Noguchi and Azroy Anuar completing the podium.
After the “race”, the grid then concentrated on time attack runs of five laps – before finishing off the test with practice starts off the grid.
Alberto Puig, Talent Promotion Director, Dorna Sports: “It’s never easy the first time. Many guys are new. We were lucky to have good weather and no big problems or injuries. They got to understand the bike and the track. Yesterday, the gap between the top riders and the others was bigger, but today it was a little less. We know there are riders who can win the Cup and those who can go step by step to become top runners. When a rider crashes, they don’t like it and it angers them. They have to understand why they’ve crashed – and a few have needed more than one crash to understand it. It’s not easy to see talent, but we can guess. There are some guys who could surprise us, and maybe others who will be in trouble for a year.”
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup gets in gear again very soon at Chang International Circuit from 10th-12th March as racing gets underway – this weekend alongside the Thai Round of WorldSBK.