Pratama breaks clear to claim Race 1 victory
The Indonesian makes it two wins in 2023 as a fascinating podium fight plays out between a bunch of home heroes
P6 on the grid to Race 1 victory was Veda Pratama’s story on Saturday afternoon at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan as the Indonesian rider claims a second win of the season by three seconds. Zen Mitani and Amon Odaki pocket podiums on home soil as a fantastic rostrum battle unfolds at the Mobility Resort Motegi.
Odaki was the rider who launched from pole position but it was a poor getaway from the #14, as drama unfolded mid-pack at Turn 1 with four riders unfortunately crashing, with Marianos Nikolis and Kakeru Okunuki unable to get going again.
At the front, a lead group of seven formed. In typical Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup style, the lead and podium positions changed corner by corner, before Pratama found himself at the front in the second half of the race. Little by little, Pratama broke clear of the chasers – all of whom were Japanese.
With Pratama racing away to victory, the podium fight is what we focused on and it went down to the wire. Mitani, Odaki, Shinya Ezawa and Riichi Takahira all fancied a top three finish, with Turn 11 providing us with late-race action. Odaki and Ogiwara were wide – and out of the saddle – to allow Mitani through to P2, as Odaki recovered from his error to grab P3 on the run to the line.
Ezawa and Takahira were a close P4 and P5, with Jakkreephat Phuttisan not far away from the podium fight in P7. Farres Putra, Hamad Al-Sahouti – after a one-place penalty for exceeding track limits on the final lap – and Chessy Meilandri rounded out the top 10.
Pratama doubles up following final lap drama
The Indonesian and Odaki went head-to-head on the last lap in Race 2 with the latter crashing out
Veda Pratama made it two wins from two at the Mobility Resort Motegi as drama unfolds in a damp Race 2 between the Indonesian and Amon Odaki on the final lap. The returning Shinya Ezawa took P2 on home turf with Jakkreephat Phuettisan claiming a debut podium in P3, with storylines popping up everywhere on Sunday in Japan.
The first of which involved Riichi Takahira. It was a disastrous start to the day for the Japanese rider as he crashed at Turn 3 on the first sightling lap, then once he’d got going from pitlane at the start of the race, Takahira unfortunately crashed out at the final corner.
At the front, there were as many as 11 riders in the victory chase at one point. Okadi, Zen Mitani and Ezawa were fighting at the front in front of their home fans, and so was Ryota Ogiwara, but once again with a handful of laps to go, Pratama made his way to the front.
A gap quickly appeared but Odaki reeled the #7 in and it all came down to Turn 11 at the bottom of the hill. Odaki was late on the anchors and shoved it up the inside of Pratama. Odaki ran slightly wide but stayed on track, but as Pratama grabbed the tighter line to try and wrestle the place back, contact was made between the duo and Odaki went down.
Pratama went on to win by just over two seconds as Ezawa and Phuettisan claimed podiums in Japan, as further – unseen – drama unravelled behind as Mitani and Reykat Fadilah went down on the final lap.
Hamad Al-Sahouti and Farish Hafiy rounded out the top five in Race 2, with Ogiwara, Burapa Wanmoon, Hafizd Rasyadan, Farres Putra and Ahmad Darwisy completing the top 10.
That’s it from Japan! We now look forward to a trip to Indonesia as Pratama gets ready for a hero’s welcome at his home race while boasting a healthy 40-point lead in the title chase