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Now in its fourth year, the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is about to get underway for 2017 at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand. The 4.5 km track has seven right-handers and five left, and stages both testing and the first race weekend for the Cup in 2017.
Before the grid line up for that first battle of the year as part of the Thai Round of WorldSBK, Buriram is the host for two days of testing from March 5th-6th. With some new faces joining the ranks as Champions and previous protagonists such as Ayumu Sasaki continue to make their way down the Road to MotoGP™, the 22-strong rider field have as clear a goal as ever with the Cup – making it onto the world stage.
This year there are participants from eight different countries across Asia and Oceania, and Japan is the most prolific country on the entry list with eight representatives. Malaysia, Turkey, the Philippines, Australia and the host nation for the test and first race weekend, Thailand, are the other countries lining up in 2017 – another incredible cross section of talent as the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup continues its mission to find the best young riders from this part of the world.
There’s an incredible host of new faces for this season, including Australian Reid Battye and Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi - representing his country with big boots to fill as reigning Champion Somkiat Chantra graduates from the Cup. Those back for another year include Japanese youngsters Ryusei Yamanka and Yuki Kunii, as well as Indonesian Irfan Ardiansyah and Turkey’s Can Alexsander Öncü and Deniz Oncu – looking to build on 2016 and attack the new season from the off.
Saturday got the season into gear, with the grid trying their leathers, gloves, boots and helmets – as well as signing up to officially compete and taking their individual photos. Admin complete and after a briefing on track rules and safety, they then got first contact with Chang International Circuit on a “Track Walk” to get ready to fire up for testing.
The two days of subsequent testing at Buriram will give much of the grid their first contact with the competition and their new racing adventure – and allow those returning to the field some time to try and use experience to their advantage. Once the 5th and 6th of March sessions are done, the lights then go out the following weekend as racing begins for the 2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup.