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By Asia Talent Cup

Yamanaka takes victory in dramatic race at Motegi

Japanese rider assumes the points lead and gets on the top step at home

Home hero Ryusei Yamanaka took over the lead in the 2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup standings in Race 1 at the Twin Ring Motegi, joined on the podium by Azroy Anuar of Malaysia and Turkish rider Deniz Öncü after a five-lap sprint followed a Red Flag in the initial race start. With dry conditions initially, some spots of rain made the first IATC race of the weekend a challenging one.

Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup: Full Race 1 from Motegi

It had been Haruki Noguchi and Can Öncü away at the front in the original running, before the Japanese rider – and previous points leader – crashed out and the Turkish rider was unable to avoid him. The DNF saw Noguchi lose the lead in the standings as Deniz Öncü took over at the head of the race, before worsening conditions saw several more riders go down – including new race leader Deniz Öncü. The Red Flag then came out, with a new race distance of five laps announced and the grid decided based on the standings on Lap 7 – meaning Deniz Öncü would start from pole if he managed to return to pitlane. He did, and lined up for another shot at taking both the win and the lead in the standings.

But it wasn’t to be. Over the shortened five-lap distance, it was Yamanaka who was able to pull a small gap to take his first win of the season and the Championship lead, with Azroy Anuar taking second. There was late drama for a number of riders near the front, including Yuki Kunii, who ran off out the lead, and Gerry Salim, who crashed out on the penultimate lap. Koji Hirama, who looked set for a podium finish, crashed out on the last lap in some heartbreak for the Japanese rider on home soil.

High rates of attrition meant the race had eight finishers over the line, with Yamanaka, Anuar and Öncü followed home by Indonesian Irfan Ardiansyah, Japanese riders Genki Nakajima, Kai Saito and Takuto Suzuki, and Syairul Yuslie Bin Suhaimi of Malaysia, who took P8.

Race 2 will see a second chance for some or another shot at extending the advantage for others, with Motegi ready for another assault on Sunday.

Alberto Puig, Talent Promotion Director: “When you have rain you can’t prevent or avoid it. We were a bit unlucky but that’s the way it goes. I think at the end, the guys who are on top are the ones who survived the best, so we should congratulate them. We had a lot of riders not classified which isn’t good but that’s how it is. We expected more riders in the race, and we just hope for tomorrow that it will be fully wet or fully dry. Yamanaka now has the lead but tomorrow is a new story and a new fight, and we’ll wait and see what will happen with the guys who didn’t take points today – whether they’ll take more risk or try to take points…we’ll see. Tomorrow will be another unpredictable day.”