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By Asia Talent Cup

Yuki Kunii takes Race 2 at Suzuka

Triple threat on the podium as Japanese riders clean up at home

Yuki Kunii took the win in a drama-filled Race 2 at Suzuka for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, ahead of Saturday’s winner Haruki Noguchi. Wildcard Genki Nakajima took a podium finish as Japanese riders shone on home turf around the legendary venue.

Ryusei Yamanaka took the lead off the line from pole, with another incident-free start to the race as the riders streamed around the first few laps in a long freight train. Before long though, a lead group had appeared – with Yamanaka leading the likes of Race 1 winner Haruki Noguchi, Malaysian Azroy Anuar, wildcard Genki Nakajima, and Turkish rider Can Öncü. As the laps counted down, the positions switched back and forth as the race split into three groups.

As the riders came onto the last lap, it was Turkish rider Can Öncü leading a front group of Anuar, Yamanaka, Kunii and Noguchi – with wildcard Nakajima impressing once again a little further back. Then, the big drama of the race struck late in Race 2 – with Anuar crashing, and Yamanaka and Can Öncü caught in the crossfire.

That left Yuki Kunii heading wide to avoid the incident, the Japanese rider holding onto it around the outside of the crash – as compatriot Noguchi headed the opposite way to avoid the incident and the two took first and second, ahead of wildcard Genki Nakajima.

Koji Hirama took P4, ahead of Deniz Öncü, Azroy Anuar – who remounted to cross the line in sixth – Koki Suzuki and Kai Saito crossing the line to complete the top eight, followed by Malaysians Erfin Firmansyah and Lucky Hendriansya.

Takuto Suzuki, Maxi Hattori and Haziq Hamdan were P11 to P13 respectively, with recovering Ryusei Yamanaka and Can Öncü managing to cross the line after the last lap incident to complete the points.

Race 2 leaves the two winners from Suzuka now first and second in the standings, with Noguchi on 87 points and Kunii on 85 – with Buriram double winner Deniz Öncü holding on near the top with 72. The next stop is the Malaysia Superbike Championship from July 28th to 30th, with the impressive Sepang International Circuit next to stage the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup.

Alberto Puig,Talent Promotion Director: "This is an interesting track from a rider point of view, a difficult track but if you race here you learn a lot. It was first time for Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup in Suzuka, and both races were interesting. Finally the outcome was not perfect because we have this incident at the last corner but I think there was some good racing. The only negative think I would mention it is the Irfan Ardiansyah crash the other day, he was really injured and we hope he can have a successful surgery and he can back home soon, but apart from this we are happy for the race. There were clearly two groups and this is something we expected - so we leave Japan understanding this circuit and looking forward to the next round."