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Can Öncü made it four from four for Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup wins at Sepang International Circuit this season, dominating the race once again after getting to the front and pulling out a huge lead. But it was incredible drama behind as the field battled to complete the top positions – with Haruki Noguchi taking second but just denied the Cup by a single point as Deniz Öncü managed to take fourth out the final corner on the final lap. Yuki Kunii of Japan completed the podium.
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Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup: Full Race 2 from Sepang
It was Deniz Öncü who got the holeshot off the front row, but it didn’t take long for brother Can to get to the front and then begin pulling away. The fight behind then saw Deniz Öncü, who went into the race with an eight-point lead in the standings, battling it out to stay in a position needed to secure the crown. Drama hit late on as rain flags appeared at some points on the track and, knowing the race would be Red Flagged if conditions deteriorated and the result counted back to the last time over the line, shuffling for position began – but the rain largely stayed at bay. It was a group going into the final corner for the final time, led by Noguchi as he did everything he could to give himself the best chance of taking the Cup.
Noguchi got through cleanly at the head of the group as Koji Hirama headed wide, with polesitter Azroy Anuar, Japanese rider Ryusei Yamanaka and Indonesian Gerry Salim making contact. Kunii slipped up the inside cleanly as Anuar fell and a domino effect sent Yamanaka and Salim wide; the number 12 of Yamanaka able to gather it up quicker for a push to the line.
Deniz Öncü chose the wide line on the approach to Turn 15 as he knew it was now or never to take the title, and the Turkish rider swept back up the inside behind Kunii, free of the drama and able to out-drag Hirama to the line – and the title of 2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup Champion.
Behind Deniz Öncü in fourth and Hirama in fifth, Yamanaka took sixth, with Genki Nakajima able to catch and pass Gerry Salim for seventh after the last corner shuffle. Salim, Anuar and Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi completed the top ten.
That’s now a wrap on 2017, with Deniz Öncü the Champion, Noguchi the runner up and Can Öncü taking P3 overall after doing the double in the final weekend of the year. Yamanaka ends the season in fourth, with Kunii rounding out the top five in the standings – despite missing some races through injury.
The newcomers for 2018 were decided ahead of this year’s finale as the Selection Event chose some new faces to join the grid, and the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup will be back to crown another Champion in 2018.
Alberto Puig, Talent Promotion Director: “It was really exciting, a good race with no crashes, so we are super happy. The racing was tough, I think all the guys in the leading group did a good job. They were fighting each other and finally Deniz became the Champion so we must congratulate him. Noguchi also had a good race in running for the Championship, end up only one point behind. In any case we are happy, all the riders made a good effort. In the last races, it was not so easy - in Japan and then here with completely different weather, but finally it was OK. We must think how to make the Championship even better for next year, but we must congratulate all the riders for their efforts.”