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It’s time for the 2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup to fire up for the second half of the season, with Sepang International Circuit, just outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the next venue to play host. The calendar visits the circuit twice, once mid-season and once for the season finale, and the track is a MotoGP™ venue – providing the young riders in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup the chance to get to know one of the tracks they aim to race in future on the world stage.
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup comeptes alongside the Malaysia Superbike Championship for round four, with two races – one Saturday, one Sunday – sure to showcase the best of the Cup once again around the long, challenging venue. With two long straights to end and begin the lap, slipstreaming will also prove an important factor – as well as the skill required to race against the best young riders on the continent. The weather is the other key consideration in Malaysia, with searing temperatures and often the threat of rain.
The veterans of the field are well-versed on the complexities of Sepang by now, and will be looking to use the knowledge to their advantage. Top of the standings on the eve of round four is Japanese rider Haruki Noguchi, who has 87 points to head compatriot Yuki Kunii on 85. Turkish rider Deniz Öncü is in third, after doing the double win to open the season in Buriram, and will be looking to hit back in Malaysia to take another big haul of points and threaten the leaders once again – with Ryusei Yamanaka close on 70 points.
Not too far back from those on top is local hero Azroy Anuar, who will be looking to lead the charge at home. He currently sits fifth on 60 points – still very much in contention.
Last year, the victories in Malaysia were taken by now-graduates Andi Farid and eventual 2016 Champion Somkiat Chantra. So the class of 2017 will definitely provide new winners. However, Ryusei Yamanaka, Gerry Salim and Can Öncü have all been on the podium at the venue – as well as, crucially, 2017 title contenders Deniz Öncü and Yuki Kunii.
The second half of the season starts now – and what better place than Sepang.
Alberto Puig (Talent Promotion Director): “Normally the second half of the Asia Talent Cup is always interesting, as we get to see if the new riders take a step forwards and are catching those ahead a little. Some usually reduce the gap, not entirely, but they reduce distance in certain aspects. It is also interesting to see the riders who are fighting for the championship: Noguchi, Kunii, Deniz, as they progress, to see who withstands the pressure, who does not make mistakes and to see who, in the end, takes the championship. The race in Sepang is always complicated by the heat. The important thing now for all of the riders is to finish both races and get as many points as possible. The next race is in Motegi, with very different climatic conditions, as it is cold. It is the only race of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup that is usually cold. After that round, we will return to race in Sepang, in the last event of the championship. The first visit will allow us to see what the level is, and to know how riders are in the championship and how they have improved from the beginning of the season."