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By Asia Talent Cup

Nishimura out-duels Matsuyama in the desert

Japanese duo battle it out as Matsuyama fights back in Race 2

Race 2 of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup staged an incredible duel in the desert between Sho Nishimura and Takuma Matsuyama, with only 0.020 deciding it at the line. It went, by that tiny margin, in favour of Nishimura – making it a double and a perfect start to the season with a full 50 points on the board for the Japanese rider. Behind the duel at the front, it was an all-out melee to complete the podium, with Adenanta Putra taking it by the flag. That makes up for a mistake on the last lap of Race 1; the Indonesian pitch perfect on Sunday to open his rostrum account in 2019.

At lights out it was Nishimura who once again got a near-perfect start from pole, and Matsuyama wasn’t quite able to replicate it but the number 11 certainly improved on a difficult start to Race 1. From then on, any questions about Matsuyama being able to keep the pace of Nishimura were asked and immediately answered as the two began to pull away in tandem.

Switching positions in some close but fair racing, it was a duel to remember and still they were able to keep the gap to the group behind. That group behind were locked in their own war, however, and some shuffling for position between Putra, rookie Herjan Firdaus, Afridza Munandar, Tatchakorn Buasri and Shoki Igarashi creating some classic IATC moves.

As the laps ticked on it seemed they were out of it and although the gap got smaller as the final lap began, it wasn’t quite enough. The duo at the front remained locked in their duel; Nishimura just behind and waiting to pounce on his compatriot. After the two had both seemingly rehearsed the run to the line – and the best position to be in to get the most from the slipstream – it appeared Nishimura had chosen his tactic…

Out the final corner it was exactly that – a slipstream battle to the line. Neck and neck as the flag approached it was gearing up for a photo finish and it didn’t disappoint: just 0.020 was the difference; Nishimura pushed all the way after the demolition job in Race 1.

The photo finishes continued in the fight for third. Putra got the better off impressive rookie Firdaus by thousandths, with Munandar equally close to complete the top five and make amends for a Race 1 crash. Buasri took sixth at the head of another duel, again only an infinitesimal 0.019 ahead of Igarashi. Thongnoppakun got the better of Bando, another who crashed in Race 1, for P8, with Australian Harrison Voight completing the top ten at the head of a five rider fight – Malaysian duo Syarifuddin Azman and Idil Mahadi and Indonesians Hildhan Kusuma and Abdul Mutaquim.

Wildcard Shota Kiuchi, who made a big impression on Race 1, crashed out…as well as Australian Luke Power and impressive rookie Piyawat Patoomyos after a fight near the top once again.

So after two different and spectacular races, that's it from Losail. Tune in for more IATC action next weekend in Buriram as the Cup ride alongside WorldSBK for Round 2!

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