Malaysia saw the crowning of the 2023 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup Champion as Veda Pratama won for a seventh time this year in Race 2 to see him claim the crown with two races to spare. Now, the pressure is off as we head to Qatar’s curtain closer, with many a rider eager to stand on the podium – at least – in the final two races of the season.
Pratama’s motivation in the season finale will be to become the outright record holder of most wins in a season. That famous seventh win in Sepang equalled Taiyo Furusato’s 2021 tally, and it’ll be the #7 that everyone will be wanting to beat.
After a first win of the season, Amon Odaki’s slim title hopes were ended in Race 2 – but the Japanese star will head to Qatar with two goals: to win and to secure P2 in the overall standings. Odaki was a race winner at Lusail in 2022, and so too was his compatriot Shinya Ezawa. After narrowly missing out on a first win of the year in that fantastic battle with Odaki last time out in Race 1, Ezawa also only has a 25-point haul in mind in Qatar.
A podium and a P7 were Jakkreephat’s Phuettisan’s results in Malaysia as he too saw his title hopes disappear last weekend. Nevertheless, the Thai rider comes to Qatar with three podium results in his last four races and sits just five points behind Odaki in the race for second place. Rookie Zen Mitani is also one to watch, with the Japanese rider also in the hunt to bag second in the standings as he gets set to tackle the Lusail International Circuit for the first time in the ATC.
After bagging his first podium of the season in Malayisa, Ryota Ogiwara will arrive to Qatar with confidence high. Compatriot Riichi Takahira was again in the podium fight in both races and desperately wants to return to the box before the year is out, as a big weekend awaits for home hero Hamad Al-Sahouti. A repeat of a P2 finish last year on familiar turf will go down nicely for the Qatari rider this weekend.
Race 1 will take place at 17:00 local time (GMT+3) on Saturday, with Race 2 kicking off at 14:35 on Sunday.