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By Asia Talent Cup

Noguchi victorious in Race 1 at legendary Suzuka

Home hero takes the flag first as the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup heads to Japan

Haruki Noguchi took an impressive first victory at the legendary Suzuka Circuit in Race 1, mastering his home track to take a tight victory from Malaysian Azroy Anuar and second Japanese rider Yuki Kunii in another thrilling Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup battle.

The riders got away cleanly under the Suzuka sun with a lead group emerging of front row starter Haruki Noguchi, polesitter Ryusei Yamanaka, Azroy Anuar, Yuki Kunii, and Can Öncü – with early season points leader Deniz Öncü the rider leading the chase from the second group.

Anuar was the first to attempt a break before being chased back down – and the ensuing fight at the front then saw the second group close the gap.

Drama struck in Race 1 for previous Championship leader Deniz Öncü, who after opening the year with a double then saw himself crash out of contention at Suzuka – his first DNF of the year as he attempts to take the crown.

As the last laps appeared on the horizon, Noguchi made a mistake in the final chicane, losing out as Kunii and Anuar fought it out for first, which turned out to be foreshadowing for the last lap - but for a different rider.

With four riders battling throughout that final lap, it all came down to that final chicane – with Yamanaka this time making the same mistake as his compatriot the lap before. Noguchi didn’t repeat the error, crossing the line to take the win ahead of a close fight for the podium - with Azroy Anuar taking second at the flag, just beating home hero Yuki Kunii, who completed the podium.

Japanese rider Ryusei Yamanaka took fourth, with Turkish rider Can Öncü holding off Japanese riders Koji Hirama and Genki Nakajima. Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi came eighth, with Kai Saito and Malaysian Erfin Firmansyah completing the top ten.

Alberto Puig, Talent Promotion Director: “It was a very nice race. There was a big group and they show good potential. I think they fought until the last lap. It was very, very interesting – the last chicane in Suzuka is always very difficult. Yamanaka tried, but he was a little too late braking and missed a podium. Anyway it was a good race, Noguchi was always strong leading the whole race,  as well as Kunii and Malaysian rider Azroy. It was interesting because there weren’t so many crashes and the battle was quite nice and clean, I just hope tomorrow that the pace can be a little bit faster because I think if they can go into the 19s it would be better. But today we are also happy no riders were injured, which is also so important.”