2 podiums for Van Eerde | Asia Talent Cup Rnd2 | Video

Van Eerde now second in the championship behind Noguchi

Two podiums for Van Eerde in second round of Asia Talent Cup

Race One

Haruki Noguchi and Mario Aji made for a stunning duel for the Race 1 win at Buriram in Round 2 of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, with everything going down to the final corner and a final lunge up the inside.

Billy Van Eerde was in the thick of things during race one
Billy Van Eerde was in the thick of things during race one

In the battle for third, it was Qatar Race 2 winner Billy van Eerde who got the upper hand in an impressive group fight throughout the race, completing the podium behind eventual winner Noguchi and Aji in second.

Off the line it was Noguchi and Aji taking charge from the off, and the two were immediately beginning to pull a gap as the battle lit up behind. First a few tenths and then making some fresh air, the groundwork was laid for another duel to the line. This time, however, it was more high-speed chess as Aji held station behind Noguchi and let the Japanese rider lead, with the gap remaining fairly consistent.

Asia Talent Cup 2018 - Round Two - Thailand
Asia Talent Cup 2018 – Round Two – Thailand

The Indonesian – known as ‘Super Mario’ – left his attack for a last chance, last corner dive up the inside, and he was able to get alongside Noguchi…but just wasn’t quite able to get it stopped. That allowed the Japanese rider to sweep through and keep his advantage to the line, with the two separated by seven tenths at the flag.

The battle for third was still raging, however, and it was Billy van Eerde who emerged from the melee on top.

Billy Van Eerde
Billy Van Eerde

Ten riders crossed the line covered by just over two seconds as they jostled for position and fought it out – with Danial Sharil of Malaysia following Australian van Eerde across the line, just ahead of the second Indonesian finisher, Afridza Munandar.

Sixth was an impressive wildcard performance from Warit Thongnoppakun on home turf after he turned a top qualifying result into a top race result and good haul of points. Adenanta Putra was another Indonesian who took home a good result as he took seventh, with two more Thai home heroes just behind: Kopchai Sae-Liw and Tatchakorn Buarsi. Sho Nishimura completed the top ten.

Senna Agius failed to finish with machine problems, while Ben Baker opened his championship account with his first points of the series earned off the back of his ninth place finish.

Ben Baker battling with Adenanta Putra
Ben Baker battling with Adenanta Putra

Race One Results

  1. H. NOGUCHI JPN
  2. M. AJI INA 0.719
  3. B. VAN EERDE AUS 14.187
  4. D. SHARIL MAS 14.413
  5. A. MUNANDAR INA 14.757
  6. W. THONGNOPPAKUN THA 14.917
  7. A. PUTRA INA 15.024
  8. K. SAE-LIW THA 15.144
  9. T. BUARSI THA 15.370
  10. S. NISHIMURA JPN 15.572
  11. S. KIUCHI JPN 16.206
  12. T. SENDA JPN 16.206
  13. L. HENDRIANSYA INA 21.780
  14. B. BAKER AUS 34.016
  15. I. PAWI MAS 34.113
  16. T. ALBERTO PHI 1’07.742

Race Two

After a duel to the line in Race 2 in Qatar between Australian Billy van Eerde and Japanese Championship leader Haruki Noguchi, it was almost history repeating itself at Buriram on Sunday. But this time the tables turned, and it was veteran Noguchi who got the better of his rookie challenger as the two got their elbows out on the drag to the line. In the tight battle to complete the podium, it was Afridza Munandar of Indonesia who came out on top to take third.

There was immediate drama at the start as front row man Mario Aji suffered some problems and was unable to get started, eventually getting away but then retiring soon after and unable to repeat his incredible challenge for the win on Saturday. That left Noguchi on pole and van Eerde in third separated by a gap, and the two got away well from the front row – with the group, this time, able to stay with and challenge Noguchi.

Asia Talent Cup 2018 - Round Two - Thailand
Asia Talent Cup 2018 – Round Two – Thailand

It was a classic Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup battle thereafter, with none of the duel of Saturday and a battle royal between a good number of riders at the front.

Billy Van Eerde
Billy Van Eerde

But van Eerde and Noguchi were just able to stay clear enough over the final laps to make it a duel for glory – and the Australian made a classic Buriram last lap lunge to try and take his second win. Side by side as they blasted down the start-finish straight, it as elbows out and no prisoners taking to the line – with Noguchi just ahead to take the win by only 0.005 for another photo-finish.

Haruki Noguchi had Billy Van Eerde right up his pipe throughout race two
Haruki Noguchi had Billy Van Eerde right up his pipe throughout race two

Munandar took third and was only just over a tenth back, with another few bike lengths back to an impressive wildcard performance from home hero and top Thai finisher Warit Thingnoppakun, who crossed the line in fourth.

Compatriot Kochai Sae-Liw dueled it out to take fifth ahead of Indonesian rider Agung Fachrul – the polesitter in Qatar – with Malaysian Danial Sharil taking P7. Shota Kiuchi of Japan, young Australian Senna Agius and Ibrahim Pawi completed the top ten in an impressive show of pace.

Agius earned seven-points for that ninth place finish and is now 12th in the championship standings.

Senna Agius
Senna Agius

“None of them have a lot of experience,” says Shuhei Nakamoto, Asia Talent Cup Special Advisor. “But between yesterday’s race and today, all riders improved their laptimes. Yesterday only two riders did a 47, but today it was more than ten. Only two riders have experience in the Cup but still today the top group is like a pack and the rookies had an opportunity to do something great. I’d just say to everyone – don’t give up until the end!”

Next up for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup it’s Sepang International Circuit as they race alongside the Malaysian Superbike Championship in July – with Noguchi in the hot seat and the Championship leader with a 25-point buffer over Van Eerde, who in turn has a 17-point advantage over third placed Aji.

Billy Van Eerde
Billy Van Eerde

Race Two Results

  1. NOGUCHI Haruki JPN
  2. VAN EERDE Billy AUS 0.005
  3. MUNANDAR Afridza INA 0.160
  4. THONGNOPPAKUN Warit THA 0.530
  5. SAE-LIW Kopchai THA 2.397
  6. FACHRUL Agung INA 2.645
  7. SHARIL Daniel MAS 4.200
  8. KIUCHI Shota JPN 16.909
  9. AGIUS Senna AUS 20.880
  10. PAWI Ibrahim MAS 21.413
  11. YAMADA Naoki JPN 30.984
  12. HENDRIANSYA Lucky 31.110
  13. ALBERTO Troy 48.079
  14. SAENGSAWANG Nitipong THA 1’01.953
Race Two Results NOGUCHI Haruki JPN VAN EERDE Billy AUS 0.005 MUNANDAR Afridza INA 0.160
Race Two Results
NOGUCHI Haruki JPN
VAN EERDE Billy AUS 0.005
MUNANDAR Afridza INA 0.160

2018 Asia Talent Cup Championship Points Standings
  1. Noguchi 95
  2. Van Eerde 70
  3. Aji 53
  4. Munandar 48
  5. Sharil 35
  6. senda 33
  7. Nishimura 31
  8. Sae-Liw 29
  9. Fachrul 26
  10. Putra 24
  11. Thongnoppakun 23
  12. Agius 20
  13. Buarsi 20
  14. Kiuchi 15
  15. Pawi 14
  16. Yamaha 7
  17. Hendriansya 7
  18. Alberto 4
  19. Saengsawang 3
  20. Baker 2