Syarifuddin Azman came out on top in another awesome Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup race at Losail International Circuit in Qatar, the Malaysian winning a five-way battle for victory to take his second win in the series and first of the year. Race 1 winner Kanta Hamada keeps the points lead after he came home in second, just 0.049 off, with the podium completed by Harrison Voight as the Australian made his first visit to the IATC rostrum.
It was polesitter Taiyo Furusato who once again took the holeshot from the front, the Japanese rookie putting in another stunner off the line, but this time those just behind him were able to stay in slightly better touch from the off. And from that off, a lead group of five emerged as it became clear Race 2 was going to be more than a duel - with Hamada, Azman, Gun Mie and Voight all able to make it a five-man contest.
That's the way it stayed on Sunday, with some stunning moves, a few wobbles and plenty of overtaking spicing up the fight at the front, and the high speed chess of Race 1 replaced by a gloves-off battle. Coming into the final corner, Furusato once again chose to remain in the lead - once again having led for many laps of the race too - but once again it didn't quite work out. The slipstream was going to decide the race, but this time there were five.
As Furusato gunned it towards the line, those behind were gaining and it was Azman who got the drive. The Malaysian timed it perfectly to pull alongside and then past, making it to the line just half a tenth clear of the man on his tail - Hamada, as the number 8 also got past Furusato. As did Voight, with Furusato forced to settle for fourth despite having put in so much leg work.
Gun Mie ended up a couple of tenths back but nevertheless made it a debut weekend to remember as he followed up fourth in Race 1 with another top five on Sunday, with an even closer battle raging behind him for sixth. Australian Max Gibbons won it by just 11 hundredths, fighting off Shoki Igarashi as the Japanese rider was shuffled back to P7.
Rei Wakamatsu took eighth and a step forward on Sunday, gaining himself some clear air from those on the chase, as another close contest deciding ninth. Indian rider Mikail Salih took that P9, getting the better of Malaysian Sharul Sharil by just half a tenth. Carter Thompson was 11th and Masaya Hongo 12th, but both still within a second of Salih.
That's a wrap from Round 1, with a little longer wait for the next track action after the calendar change. But that's time to reset and recharge, with more IATC action waiting in the wings.