Taiyo Furusato has continued his dominant Asia Talent Cup performance, claiming another overall win in Doha for Round 2 with a duo of hard fought victories against Danial Sharil, who made sure each race went down to the line, with just 0.115s and 0.041 separating the two riders in the races respectively.
It was a strong weekend for the Aussies too all running in the top-ten, with Carter Thompson in the thick of it, battling for a podium place in Race 1 to eventually finish fifth and moving a step closer in Race 2, narrowly missing third.
“Just missed the podium again. Congratulations to Furusato on another great win. That’s a wrap for Doha, Qatar for this year. Happy with my results for the two rounds of racing with a fourth, seventh, fifth and a fourth and to be fighting for a podium in these races. I have learnt so much over the three weeks in Qatar and I thank the entire Asia Talent Cup team for all there help, knowledge and guidance over the this time. See you all in October for the next round of IATC.”
Tom Drane kicked off his weekend with ninth in the opening race, while claiming eighth in the second race, however he was just a second off third places Hakim Danish and well within the fight for a podium spot.
“Set a goal to make it in to the top-ten in my races. Goal achieved. Made a great start and managed to stay with the pack. Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support and Motorcycling Australia Elite Performance Academy and Oceania Junior Cup for this unbelievable opportunity. Not many people have the opportunity to race alongside the MotoGP. Thank you to the entire team at the Asia Talent Cup for this experience and all your help. It is something that I will never forget. Looking forward to Round 3 at Japan in October. See you all back in Australia.”
Marianos Nikolis had a slower start to the weekend, taking tenth in race one, leading home the third pack, however the final race of the weekend saw him fighting for a podium spot alongside his fellow, finishing just behind Thompson in fifth
Taiyo Furusato currently leads the standings on a perfect 100-points, with Danial Sharil second on 59. Gun Mie and Hakim Danish are both on 57-points, with Kanta Hamada fifth. Carter Thompson currently sits sixth on 46-points, trailing Hamada by just three points.
Marianos Nikolis is just one spot behind in seventh, although his points tally currently reads 30. Tom Drane is just a single-point outside the top-ten in 12th, with 20-points.
Taiyo Furusato Japanese rider Taiyo Furusato really had to work for it in Race 1 of Round 2. In a duel that went down to the wire against Danial Sharil, it was just 0.115 between the two over the line, with the Japanese rider facing his toughest challenge yet this season on the way to win number three.
Off the line, Furusato was straight into the driving seat from pole but this time, he didn’t have any breathing space. Sharil, from the middle of the front row, got away just as well to slot right in behind the number 15 and the two led the pack away ahead of Carter Thompson, Fadillah Aditama, Gun Mie, Kanta Hamada, Rei Wakamatsu and… Hakim Danish. The Malaysian, who started 11th and some way back from his P2 grid position last weekend, made immediate progress into the front group.
That front group remained locked in battle and onto Lap 2, Sharil hit the front – denying Furusato the lead at Losail for the first time this season. The Japanese rider dropped back into the clutches of those just behind too, finding himself with plenty of company heading into Turn 1. But he kept his head, and next time around the familiar number 15 was back at the front once again… as Sharil, once again, managed to keep him honest.
The laps ticked down and the duel rolled on as the two were able to escape the group just behind, and it was Furusato who remained ahead much of the time. But Sharil was his shadow, showing a wheel here and there and very much making his presence known. The tactic seemed to be working too, with Furusato making a couple of rare mistakes and Sharil able to pounce and take the fight forward.
Coming out of the final corner for the final time though, Furusato was ahead and – unlike last season when he lost out by leading – the number 15 was able to keep it pinned to the line and just deny Sharil the perfect fairytale. Nevertheless, Sharil’s return to the rostrum is an emotional one after more than two years of recovery, with the Malaysian going from frontrunner to victory contender in the space of a week as he gets back in action.
The fight for third was a rollercoaster battle and it was Gun Mie who once again showed his mettle to come out on top for another podium, leaving Rei Wakamatsu in fourth and Carter Thompson – after leading so much of the fight – to settle for fifth. Kanta Hamada was shuffled back to sixth, with Hakim Danish off the podium for the first time in 2021 as he crossed the line at the back of that group in seventh.
Fadillah Aditama got his first 2021 points on the board in eighth, duelling with rookie Tom Drane at the flag. The Australian just lost out but impressed to take his best finish yet in ninth.
Compatriot Marianos Nikolis completed the top ten for another good finish, heading up a group that stretched back to Watcharin Tubtimon in 15th. Between the Australian and the Thai rider came Tetsuya Fujita, Masaya Hongo, Herlian Dandi and Sharul Sharil in that order.
Thanakorn Lakharn collided with Yousef Al-Darwish early in Race 1, and the Thai rider served a Long Lap Penalty in Race 2 for the incident.
Taiyo Furusato and Danial Sharil escaped at the front and went toe-to-toe once again in Race 2, with the gap over the line just 0.041 as the Japanese rider managed to stay ahead on the drag to the flag.
As the lights went out it was a replay 1-2 as Furusato nailed the start and Danial Sharil tucked in just behind, the two already with a little daylight just behind them. It was initially a familiar group fighting it out for third too, although as the laps ticked on there were some riders showing impressive progress.
Marianos Nikolis, Tom Drane, Masaya Hongo and Tetsuya Fujita were all up in the battle against the more seasoned podium fight of Danish, Carter Thompson, Kanta Hamada and Gun Mie.
At the front though, there was a little less chaos. Furusato held firm but Sharil stayed in close touch, with nothing between the two. The Malaysian tried it once mid-way through the race as he made a move at Turn 4, but running wide at the exit let Furusato back through and the status quo rolled on.
Onto the last lap, the number 21 was looking eager to find a way through and he struck at Turn 10, keeping it clean and taking over at the front – but not for long. On the exit of Turn 12 the Malaysian was ever-so-slightly wide, something that could have been even more crucial if not for what happened next: a move from Furusato. The Japanese rider took it back and round the final corner, Sharil hung in there knowing it was all coming down to the drag to the line.
Close as ever as they thundered down the start-finish straight, the gap saw the Malaysian get closer than on Saturday but still… it wasn’t quite enough and Furusato leaves Losail undefeated, with four wins from four. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible podium for Daniel Sharil once again, underlining his return to competition and competitiveness.
The fight for third essentially ended in a war at the final corner followed by a mad dash, and it was Danish who took it this time around as the rookie Malaysian just denied Carter Thompson in another incredibly close podium defeat for the number six. Marianos Nikolis, after getting seriously stuck in in the battle, came over the line for his best finish yet in an impressive P5.
Gun Mie was forced to settle for sixth, with Kanta Hamada next up in seventh. Tom Drane impressed to get another top ten and this time in P8 and part of that big group, with Masaya Hongo classified ninth after losing one place due to a track limits infraction.
Tetsuya Fujita wasn’t quite able to stay with that group to the flag but he completed the top ten, winning a duel against Sharul Sharil for the honour. Fadillah Aditama and Rei Wakamatsu got tangled up – literally – at the final corner and failed to finish.
That’s it from Losail after two incredible rounds of racing to begin the season. The IATC will return to action later in the year, visiting Japan in October for Round 3.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.