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Danial Sharil took his first ever Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup win at Chang International Circuit, attacking to perfection at the final corner in another classic contest that went down to the wire. The Malaysian attacked Haruki Noguchi at the final corner to take the lead, and stayed just ahead of a last dash move from Bill van Eerde to take the chequered flag ahead by thousandths and move up to third in the Championship. Van Eerde, after qualifying in P19, stunned the field with his comeback and even extended his points lead at the top of the table, with key rival and polesitter Haruki Noguchi beaten back into P3.
It was Sharil who took the holeshot but from the head of the second row as the Malaysian rocketed up into P1. From there, however, he did have to look back – with a group fight first between the top six and then all the way throughout the top ten as the second group caught those squabbling up ahead. At times it seemed Noguchi could break away but the Japanese rider was chased down each time, and the slipstream around Buriram proved pivotal for those on the chase.
With 11 riders in the front group as the laps ticked down, it was anyone’s to win – and the final corner seemed like it could throw up some fireworks. That it did, with Sharil attacking Noguchi after a manic final lap and the Japanese rider heading a little wide – leaving room for van Eerde. The Australian, who earlier in the race overtook a group of riders in one, had already showed he needed no second invitation – and he took the gap at full gas to get into the drag race to the line against Sharil.
Neck and neck, it seemed the Australian could pull off the nigh on impossible and go from P19 on the grid to the top step, but Sharil had a good exit too and made the most of it – crossing the line 0.021 ahead to take his first victory. Van Eerde’s second place extended his lead, however, with Noguchi left to lock out the podium.
Adenanta Putra took a solid P4 finish as Lucky Hendriansya completed the top five following a penalty, with Kopchai Sae-liw in sixth on home turf. Sho Nishimura, Warit Thongnoppakun and Naoki Yamaka completed the front group and top nine, with the top ten rounded out by Takuma Matsuyama.
One key name missing from the fight was Mario Aji, as the Indonesian was an early crasher and put a dent in his title hopes. Fellow crashers included Tachakorn Buarsi, a front row starter on home turf who befell some late race heartbreak but still took P13, as well as Japanese rider Toshiki Senda. They’ll be pushing for more in Race 2, which begins at 15:30 (GMT +7) local time.
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