Noguchi vs Aji: another clash of the titans in Thailand

Incredible race-long duel characterises Race 1 as Round 2 blasts round Buriram

Haruki Noguchi and Mario Aji made it another stunning duel for the Race 1 win at Buriram in Round 2 of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, with everything going down to the final corner and a final lunge up the inside. In the battle for third, it was Qatar Race 2 winner Bill van Eerde who got the upper hand in an impressive group fight throughout the race, completing the podium behind eventual winner Noguchi and Aji in second.

Off the line it was Noguchi and Aji taking charge from the off, and the two were immediately beginning to pull a gap as the battle lit up behind. First a few tenths and then making some fresh air, the groundwork was laid for another duel to the line. This time, however, it was more high-speed chess as Aji held station behind Noguchi and let the Japanese rider lead, with the gap remaining fairly consistent.

The Indonesian – known as ‘Super Mario’ – left his attack for a last chance, last corner dive up the inside, and he was able to get alongside Noguchi…but just wasn’t quite able to get it stopped. That allowed the Japanese rider to sweep through and keep his advantage to the line, with the two separated by seven tenths at the flag.

The battle for third was still raging, however, and it was Bill van Eerde who emerged from the melee on top. Ten riders crossed the line covered by just over two seconds as they jostled for position and fought it out – with Danial Sharil of Malaysia following Australian van Eerde across the line, just ahead of the second Indonesian finisher, Afridza Munandar.

Sixth was an impressive wildcard performance from Warit Thongnoppakun on home turf after he turned a top qualifying result into a top race result and good haul of points. Adenanta Putra was another Indonesian who took home a good result as he took seventh, with two more Thai home heroes just behind: Kopchai Sae-Liw and Tatchakorn Buarsi. Sho Nishimura completed the top ten.

What will happen in Race 2 on Sunday? Will the field close in as they did in Qatar, or can Aji turn the tables on Noguchi? Tune in at 13:00 local time (GMT +7) to find out.