Pratama on the double in ATC finale in Qatar

The 2023 Champion signed off a brilliant campaign with a record-breaking eighth and ninth win of the season

Pratama grabs record-breaking 8th win in dramatic Qatar Race 1

For a record-breaking eighth time in 2023, Veda Pratama claimed victory in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup after a phenomenal Race 1 played out at the Lusail International Circuit. Japan’s Ryota Ogiwara finished just 0.094s away from the win in P2 as his compatriot Amon Odaki crashed out at the final corner to hand third place to Shinya Ezawa in Qatar.

Pratama started from pole position and the #7 got the launch he would have been dreaming of. Almost immediately, the front quartet started to pull clear but a mistake at the final corner cost Ezawa time. This allowed Pratama, Ogiwara and Odaki to stride clear as the victory fight became all about three riders.

As we often see in the ATC, the lead was changing lap by lap. Pratama, Ogiwara and Odaki all took several turns leading in what was a fascinating race before the final lap reared its head. As the trio approached Turn 16, Odaki slung his Honda up the inside of both Pratama – who was wide on the outside – and Ogiwara.

Drama then unfolded for Odaki who crashed out when the rear tyre let go on corner exit, allowing Pratama to power past Ogiwara to claim victory under the lights. Ezawa was a lonely P3, the Japanese rider ended the race 5.7s adrift and just under four seconds ahead of the scrap behind.

Despite starting P17, Marianos Nikolis picked up his best result of the season in P4 as the Australian beat Riichi Takahira and Zen Mitani over the line, with Jakkreephat Phuettisan – who now sits P2 in the standings – and Farish Hafiy finishing P7 and P8 in that particular battle. Kiattisak Singhapong and wildcard rider Mohammed Binladin rounded out the top 10.

11 races down, one to go. The 2023 curtain closer takes place at 14:35 local time (GMT+3) on Sunday afternoon – can anyone stop Pratama from claiming a ninth win?

0.010s in it: Pratama fends off Ogiwara for ninth win

For the ninth time in 2023, Veda Pratama was a race winner – but only just! A classic played out as the Lusail International Circuit hosted the season curtain closer, as we saw Ryota Ogiwara finishing just 0.010s behind the Indonesian. With a P3 finish, Amon Okadi sealed second in the Championship following a fascinating fight to the chequered flag.

As he often has done this season, Pratama got a great getaway from pole position. Ogiwara tucked in right behind with Jakkreephat Phuettisan third for a brief period having launched very well from the third row.

A lead group of four formed with the chasers not far behind, but it soon became apparent that it was a race for victory between Pratama and Ogiwara. Odaki and Shinya Ezawa, try as they might, didn’t have the pace to keep tabs on the top two.

As it did in Race 1, it all came down to the last lap – and the last corner. Ogiwara threatened to make a lunge up the inside but the #16 couldn’t make it stick. Now, it was all about the run to the line. Pratama just held on to take his ninth victory of 2023 as Ogiwara had to settle for a very, very close second.

In the podium battle, Odaki came out on top as that too came down to the final corner. Riichi Takahira was able to get in amongst it in the final two laps and the #9 was able to pip Ezawa to P4 at the line. Zen Mitani claimed P6 ahead of Farish Hafiy, with Marianos Nikolis, Phuettisan and Hamad Al-Sahouti rounding out the top 10 – the Qatari rider producing a fine comeback after stalling his bike on the grid, which forced him to start from last.

So that’s it for 2023. What a season it’s been in the Asia Talent Cup and what a Champion we have in Pratama. Congratulations to all the riders this year as we already look forward to what 2024 has in store.